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Effects of Parental Divorce on Children

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Michelle Chandler

on 10 September 2015

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Transcript of Effects of Parental Divorce on Children

Erik Erikson's Child Development Theory
Erik Erikson developed the Theory of Psychosocial Development. This theory has eight distinctive stages. Upon completion of each stage, an individual will have either successfully completed the stage, which would result in a healthy and thriving personality, or the individual will have unsuccessfully completed the stage, which could result in a feeling of failure and a damaged self image. Erikson believed conflicts would be present during each stage of development which would require a person to develop strategies to overcome those conflicts. They will be triumphant or they will be defeated by the conflict. Parental divorce, which occurs too often, is one such conflict. “Fifty percent of children are children

of divorce” (Corcoran, 1997). Many of those children struggle with this conflict and as a result are unable to complete the stages successfully, essentially, because they are left to "clean up the mess" their parents created. According to Erikson, "earlier crises do not cease to influence an individual just because the optimum ages for resolution have passed. Remnants of these crises, substantially resolved or not, continue through subsequent stages" (Christiansen, Fall98).
What are the warning signs children
exhibit due to parental divorce?
Divorce can alter a child’s way of life no matter what their age. Once dependent on care giving from both parents within the same home, a child now has to learn to adjust to transitioning from one parent’s home to the other’s home. This creates uncertainty and instability for the child. What the child once thought of as a secure, loving environment has now been destroyed.

Emotional Effects of Divorce
Studies in the early 1980’s showed that children in repeat divorces earned lower grades and their peers rated them as less pleasant to be around. (Andrew J. Cherlin, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage –Harvard University Press 1981)

Compared to children from homes disrupted by death, children from divorced homes have more psychological problems. (Robert E. Emery, Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment” Sage Publications, 1988) The DEATH of a Parent is LESS Devastating to a Child than Divorce.

People who come from broken homes are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who do not come from broken homes. (Velez-Cohen, “Suicidal Behavior and Ideation in a Community Sample of Children” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1988)

Children of divorced parents are roughly two times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who benefit from living with parents who did not divorce.(McLanahan, Sandefur, “Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps” Harvard University Press 1994)

-18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics

Physical Effects of Divorce
Children of divorce are at a greater risk to experience injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than children whose parents have remained married. (Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well Being” National Health Interview Survey on Child Health, Journal of Marriage and the Family)

Following divorce, children are fifty percent more likely to develop health problems than two parent families. (Angel, Worobey, “Single Motherhood and Children’s Health”)

Children living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent more physically healthy than children from broken homes. (Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well-being” Journal of Marriage and the Family)

Most victims of child molestation come from single-parent households or are the children of drug ring members. (Los Angles Times 16 September 1985 The Garbage Generation)

A Child in a female-headed home is 10 times more likely to be beaten or murdered. (The Legal Beagle, July 1984, from “The Garbage Generation”)

-18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics

Identity vs. Role Confusion
(12-18 years old)
Warning signs:
Struggles academically
Acts out
Feeling of not being loved
Feels the need to win their parents attention
Worries about their life
Struggles with relationships
Chronic fatigue
Difficulty concentrating
Seeks attention from opposite sex
Drinking alcohol
Skipping school

Effects of Parental Divorce on Children
Trust vs. Mistrust
(birth - 1 year old)
Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
(2 -3 years old)
Warning signs
Thumb sucking
Regression in toilet training
Story telling
Blaming themselves and feeling guilty
Bedtime anxiety
Separation anxiety; fear of being abandoned
Temper tantrums

Initiative vs. Guilt
(3 - 5 years old)
Warning signs:
Feeling of abandonment
Separation anxiety
Making up untrue stories
Lack of impulse control
Feeling torn apart; not knowing which parent loves them

Industry vs. Inferiority
(6-12 years old)

Warning signs
Sleep disturbances
Regression in toilet training
Separation anxiety
Frequent crying
Temper tantrums
Warning signs:
Complains of frequent headaches or stomachaches
Feelings of guilt
Embarrassed about family situation
Struggles academically
Aggressive toward peers and teachers
Seeks attention

The Long Term Effects of Divorce
A case study of children six years after parental marriage breakup revealed that even after all that time, these children tended to be "lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure. .(Wallerstein “The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1991)

Seventy percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in broken homes. (Horn, Bush, “Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform)

-18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics
Relationship Effects of Divorce
Children of divorce are four times more likely to report problems with peers and friends than children whose parents have kept their marriage intact. (Tysse, Burnett, “Moral Dilemmas of Early Adolescents of Divorced and Intact Families. Journal of Early Adolescence 1993)

Children of divorce, particularly boys, tend to be more aggressive toward others than those children whose parents did not divorce. (Emery, “Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment, 1988)

-18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics
How Educators Can Help
Maintain open communication with the student. It helps build trust between the educator and the student.
Provide positive feedback to the student.
Provide consistency and structure.
Watch for behavioral signals of underlying problems.
Keep open communication with parents.
Communicate with the school counselor when you have concerns.
Praise, praise, and praise the child! They need to know that they are worthy.

According to Michael Reagan, in his book, Twice Adopted, “divorce is where two adults take everything that matters to a child — the child’s home, family, security and sense of being loved and protected and they smash it all up, leave it in ruins on the floor, then walk out and leave the child to clean up the mess.”

The Child of Divorce by Monica Epperson

18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics. (2014-2015). Retrieved from Marriage Success Secrets: http://www.marriage-success-secrets.com/statistics-about-children-and-divorce.html

Batra, S. (2013). The Psychosocial Development of Children: Implications for Education and Society — Erik Erikson in Context. Sage Journals, 249-278. Retrieved from http://ced.sagepub.com.easydb.angelo.edu/content/10/2/249.full.pdf+html

Christiansen, S. L. (Fall98). Exploring Erikson's psychosocial theory of development: generativity and its relationship to paternal identity, intimacy, and involvement in childcare. Journal of Men's Studies, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p133, 24p.

Corcoran, K. O. (1997, June). Psychological and Emotional Aspects of Divorce. Retrieved from Mediate.com: http://www.mediate.com/articles/psych.cfm

Epperson, M. (2014, April 20). The Child of Divorce. Retrieved from YouTube.

Hahn, P. C. (2005-2010). Human Development Considerations. Retrieved from Helping to Create Constructive Agreements: http://constructiveagreement.com/development.html

McLeod, S. (2008). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from Simply Psychology: http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html

Michael Reagan’s definition of divorce. (2013, August 6). Retrieved from Dover Beach: https://lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/michael-reagans-definition-of-divorce/

Pickhardt, P. C. (2011, December 19). The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201112/the-impact-divorce-young-children-and-adolescents

Erikson reminds us that the human power to solve personal conflicts is "not driven by external rewards but is derived from the inner strength of being human. And this inner strength is dependent on the ego synthesis of the stages encountered during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood" (Batra, 2013). Children of divorce often times lack the inner strength needed to overcome the challenges they face when their parents divorce. As a result, they tend to have a low self-image.
Developed for Educators
Will YOU help make a difference in the life of a child?
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