Divorce on Children

What Are the Effects of Divorce on Children?

Divorce has always been a topic of great interest to those studying psychology, as counseling couples who have or are considering divorcing is a large part of the psychologist's job. However, little is of more interest to the psychologist studying divorce than the effects of divorce on children. For quite some time, this topic has encouraged mixed results among researchers. Traditionally, popular opinion has cited divorce as having negative affects on children, impacting their relationship with one or more parents. However, another viewpoint argues that divorcing parents are not nearly as harmful to children as parents who stay together but constantly engage in conflict around their children. Amato (2000) argues that the increase in divorce is one of the most far-reaching and most potent changes in recent family life. This study seeks to define the exact nature of the effects of divorce on children, also examining whether or not certain situations worsen or lessen these effects.

Ahrons, C.R. And Tenner J.L. (2003). Adult Children and their Fathers: Relationship

Changes 20 Years After Parental Divorce. Family Relations, 52(4), p. 340-351.

A study that closely examines one factor of divorce, this article is of great importance to the discussion of divorce's effects on children. Arguing that much of the literature states relationships between children of divorced parents and their non-resident fathers worsen after divorce. In addition, the authors espouse that current research suggests a continued relationship with the father is generally in the child's best interest, although this statement becomes null if a father is abusive or incompetent. Ahrons and Tenner (2003) state that research does not generally discuss how adult children feel about their relationships with their fathers. By studying adult children 20 years after their parents divorced, the researchers found that most children found that their relationships with their fathers either improved or remained the same after divorce. Associated with at least one major university, the author's knowledge of divorce studies was quite expansive. Thus, viewing this article as competent was rather easy. Further, this is perhaps one of the most interesting studies to be covered in this bibliography. By presenting research regarding adult children of divorce's feelings toward fathers, information about the effects of divorce on children in the long run can be gleaned.

Amato, P.R. (2000). The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children. National Council on Family Relations, 62(4), pp.1269-1287.

In this study, Amato (2000) discusses the research on divorce that was done in the early 1990s, attempting to determine what affects divorce has for both adults and children. Calling the rising divorce rate one of the most "dramatic" and "far-reaching in its implications" life changes trends during the 20th century, Amato suggests that divorce at least has the potential to create sustained periods of turmoil and trauma in a person's life. Because about half of marriages today end in divorce and nearly all adults have been married at least two times, Amato (2000) points out that divorce "has major implications for the settings in which children are nurtured and socialized" (pg. 1269). Indeed, the author continues to mention that just more than half of the marriages in the United States involve children under the age of 18. Thus, with so many of their parents divorcing, Amato (2000) makes a strong case for the important role divorce plays in the lives of many modern children. However, he also concludes that the effects of divorce for both adults and children are widely varied. Although studies in the early 1990s showed that children whose parents were divorced had a harder time adjusting academically, socially, and in other areas, these results could easily be the result of factors other than divorce. In addition, some studies also found that divorce was helpful to children in a minority of cases (Amato, 2000). Further, Amat0 (2000) suggests that there are two prevailing viewpoints -- that divorce is a temporary setback that children can overcome quickly and that divorce causes increasing and ongoing trauma.

A scholar associated with the Pennsylvania State University, Amato has written many scholarly articles especially considering the topic of divorce and marriage and family. Undertaking a scholarly examination of the research done in this area until the previous time, Amato excellently synthesizes the literature and provides multiple viewpoints. Because this study is a survey of others conducted before it, it is quite important in answering my research question. Although it leaves the question open ended, it provides information about previous studies that have attempted to answer this question and gives a good overview of the values-oriented dilemma that makes it difficult to answer such a question.

Furstenberg, F.F. And Kiernan, K.E. (2001). Delayed Parental Divorce: How Much do

Children Benefit? Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(2), pp. 446-457.

The authors of this article tackle one of the most important issues in current discussions of divorce's affects on children -- the delay of marriage. By doing an original study in which they compare the long-term effects of divorce on children, the authors discuss several issues of great importance. They attempt to determine whether children's difficulty adjusting to divorce has more to do with external factors, such as selection factors, or the divorce itself. Further, the authors contend that the effects of divorce are "a complex blend of selection and socialization" (Furstenberg and Kiernan, 2001, pg. 446). This article is of the utmost importance because it questions the assumption that remaining married for the sake of the children is the right thing to do. In addition, it highlights the fact that it may not necessarily be divorce, but mitigating factors such as parenting and the relationship between parents before and after the divorce that create hardships among children. Finally, this article also deals with another important issue -- selection factors, suggesting that some problems with the impact of divorce on children may be linked to characteristics that are more likely found in the children of divorced parents than divorce itself. Members of the Department of sociology in the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics respectively, authors F.F. Furstenberg and K.E. Kiernan (2001) make an important contribution to the research by acknowledging these factors.

Leon's (2003) article gives an impressive assessment of research conducted using some of the most important names in the field, such as Amato's. Seeing this link between Amato's research and Leon's (2003) provides this study with a degree of credibility. In addition, this article provides several facets interesting to this study, including factors that mitigate the trauma associated with divorce for both older and younger children and implications for professional intervention.

Kelly, J.B. And Emery, R.E. (2003). Children's Adjustment Following Divorce: Risk and Resilience Perspectives. Family Relations, 54(2), pp. 352-362.

In this article, Kelly and Emery (2003) adopt a new view of divorce and its impact on children. Instead of simply adopting the media's standpoint that divorce almost always causes negative consequences in children, the authors argue that the effects of divorce on children are a combination of risk and protective factors. That is, there are many stressors that are associated with divorce for children. The long-term effects of such stressors are what may eventually cause children to have negative reactions to divorce. These stressors include the initial separation, for which many children are not prepared, conflict among parents after the separation, diminished parenting after the divorce, the loss of relationships with important friends and family members, remarriage, and economics. Protective factors, such as parenting skills and the presence of nonresident parents, among others, can help decrease the risk of divorce, according to the authors.

In this article, the author's suggest a competent understanding of the research done up to this point regarding divorce and its affects on children. Through a careful analysis…