Divorce’s Effect on Children

By: Brian Garchitorena

Copy edited by: Amanda Hirsch and Stefon Wynter

Research edited by: Jared Bernhardt

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

I hope they will work it out.

Almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Most parents want to know how their children will be affected if they get divorced; they are not alone. There are endless possible effects on a child’s development such as psychological distress and emotional scars that can last into adulthood. What many of these children are unaware of is how greatly these traumatic effects will impact their own marriage later on in life. It has been largely debated whether or not children of divorce are more likely to get divorced themselves. If you are thinking about getting divorced, it will have a huge impact on your child’s development.

Divorce is almost always a difficult time for all parties involved, especially the children. They know first-hand how rough life can be for a family suffering this fate. It tears families apart and forever leaves the children wishing for everything to go back to normal. Divorce can be terribly traumatic for kids; enough so that they may never want to put anyone else through the same suffering. Divorce does not only make children have more empathy, and it was also discovered that it makes them more independent. A study done in 1974 by two social workers stated that “divorce could ‘liberate children’ by making them less dependent on their parents.”[1] It allows children to grow up quicker and discover who they are.  

If the children have been part of a divorce, they will be more prepared and less anxious to get a divorce as an adult. People react differently to divorce, but generally humans are creatures of habit. They stick to what they are familiar with. Children only have one childhood; in their minds, divorce is part of growing up. Being a child when your parents are going through a divorce can cause you to remember that time as a familiarity. Generally, there is a sense of nostalgia that people have about their childhood, so if a parent’s divorce takes place during their kid’s childhood, their kid is more likely to be misattribute their positive feeling to divorce making it seem more acceptable to them. People tend to be far more scared of the anticipation of things than they are of the things themselves. The same concept applies to divorce.

Bottom Line

I believe children of divorce are more open to getting divorced. As one of those children, I am telling you that your marriage and divorce attributes greatly to your children’s perception of what a relationship is like. A 36 year old woman named Janet whose parents divorced when she was ten said, “I never had an example of how to be successfully married,’ she says. ‘All I had was an example of how to be successfully single.” It is much more difficult for children of divorce to stay married when their sole example was unable to. We take after our parents; if they get divorced, we know nothing else. You should teach your children that “divorce is not inevitable, it is a result of human error.”[2]

There is an overwhelmingly negative stigma about divorce, but it’s actually a positive alternative. Divorce has harmful effects on your children, but it’s a remarkable improvement over raising a child in a toxic environment. “Many experts contend that many couples in troubled marriages should divorce rather than raise children in a household permeated with anger and tension.”[3] If the only reason you’re staying together is for the kids, don’t stay together. It could do more harm than good.

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