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Divorce is a phenomenon that has been there for as long as marriages have. However, ways of divorce change with time. In the early days, marriage was a personal decision. Neither religion nor law determined to divorce. With the introduction and rise of Christianity, this changed and in the modern days, apart from personal issues, it is also influenced by religion and law. In the recent past, the number of divorces was on the rise all over the world. However, divorce rates vary with regions. For instance, in the Western and Southern states, divorce rates are higher than in the Northeastern and Midwestern states. Usually, divorce happens when parents feel that they cannot live together anymore.
The divorce takes various forms including economic, co-parental, community and psychological. In economic divorce, partners break the existing economic unit into two units. Each individual becomes independent. They share property and relocate from the initial residence. In the co-parental divorce, parents have a plan on the custody of the children. This involves contact with the children and the responsibility for their needs. Divorce affects social status. Their circle of friends changes and some friends may withdraw because of having fear of taking sides or disapproving of the divorce. The individuals also get new friends. This is a community divorce.
Divorce affects the parties involved psychologically. After divorce, the parties try to gain psychological independence. This provides them a basis for personal growth and strength. Divorcing partners go through the various stages before separation. In the initial stage of denial, the partners fail to acknowledge the conflict, and they attribute it to external factors. In the next stage of loss and depression, the partners acknowledge the conflict and feel intense loss and loneliness. A stage of anger follows where the partners become harsh and sometimes violent to one another. They are afraid of the future and have to decide whether to let go or not.
Finally, the couple faces reorientation where they have to redefine their status as single. They have to face the reality of divorce. During this transformational period, they are vulnerable and can easily fall into new partners without emotional attachment or else they lose social contact completely. They find it difficult to adjust to the new situation. During these stages of divorce, children face a hard time as they try to understand the situation and adjust to the new condition (Wilson, 2009).
Children whose parents are divorced or are planning a divorce go through a hectic time. This impact, however, depends on the various things, age of the children being the main determinant. This essay will explore:
Children are negatively affected by the divorce of their parents, and they react to this differently, mainly depending on their age and their gender. Infants do not understand the conflict between their parents, but they notice the parent’s change in mood and energy level. They may react to this by having stomach upsets and spiting more than before. These infants also have a decreased appetite. These children are mainly below two years old. Preschool children, those between three and five years old, usually blame themselves for the breakup. They think that they could have prevented it by being obedient and doing their work better.
These children feel abandoned and they portal baby-like behavior such as wetting their beds. They get depressed, angry and are usually very uncooperative. They are also very aggressive and disobedient. School-aged children understand that their parents have separated. They are grieved and embarrassed about the separation. These children have divided loyalty and intense anger. They complain of stomach aches and headaches frequently.
Mostly, these children feel rejected by the parent who leaves. They may drop in their academic performance. Adolescents, however, are angered, depressed and lonely. They feel that they have to take responsibility for the younger siblings. They doubt their ability to get married and sustain the marriage. They tend to choose one parent and reject the other. Based on gender, boys who live with their fathers or have frequent contact with their fathers tend to be less aggressive and have minimal emotional problems than those raised by their mothers.
On the other hand, girls raised by their mothers tend to be more responsible and mature than those raised by their fathers. It is evident, however, that children are greatly affected by the divorce of their parents. Children get impacted by the divorce of their parents due to various reasons. Children are afraid of the change that will result in case of a divorce. Their routine will change, and one parent figure will be missing. They fear losing contact with the extended family of one side. They also fear that their life and social status will change.
These children also have a fear of being abandoned by their parents. They see it as if they will lose their parents and as a fear that they may have to take responsibility for themselves. Children also fear to lose their attachment. As children grow up, they develop a strong attachment to their surroundings, pets, siblings, parents, and neighbors. Divorce will force them to detach themselves from some of these, and they fear this. Losing this kind of attachment may affect these children negatively. Children of divorce also fear parental tension. During and after divorce, children experience a lot of tension as their parents are not in terms. This condition is worse, especially where the parents insult and blame one another when children are present.
Children whose parents are divorcing are easy to identify because they portray some extraordinary characters. They tend to be aggressive defiant. They are frequently involved in fights with the other children. They are quickly angered and very uncooperative. They also exhibit extreme behaviors. Some may become pick picketers or shoplifters while others tend to be very soft and good. These children are also depressed. They change their eating habits and most of them have decreased appetite. They have low self-esteem and may attempt suicide. They isolate themselves from the rest and do not hang out or play with their friends.
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However, children of divorce should be assisted to adjust to the new situation. Parents should consider their children and try their best to ensure that the children are not affected negatively by the divorce. Parents should maintain their children in a good state during and after divorce. They should confer with each other before telling their children about the break-up. Children should get information on divorce from their parents themselves. However, parents should take caution when telling their children about it. They should discuss in advance how to tell their children and in case of any difficulty, they should get a trusted mediator or seek assistance from a counselor. Parents need to keep their differences and anger apart for the sake of their children. This increases the trust of the children in the parents (Clarke-Stewart & Brentano, 2006). Both parents need to be present when telling the children about the divorce. By doing so, the children are convinced that their parents are able to care for them and that they are concerned about their well-being.
The manner with which parents conduct themselves when telling their children about divorce may greatly influence children’s expectations and reactions. They should remain calm and avoid blames in the presence of their children. They should avoid expressing anger and hatred for each other as this may affect the children negatively. This may make the children lose trust in their parents. They should avoid giving reasons of personal nature, but instead, they should aim at making the children understand that they still love one another and that, at times, it may become hard to coexist together.
Parents should give their children details about the changes that will occur. They should give them the details of the parent who is leaving the house, how often they will be in contact with them, and, above all, they should reassure the children of their love; this may be done through words or actions. Parents should be generous enough to embrace each other and the children. This builds the children's trust that the parents love them and are responsible for them. Parents should welcome questions from their children and answer them honestly. If the children ask sensitive questions, the parents should be wise enough to convince children that they are secure and loved. Parents should give the children time to adjust and during this time, they should increase contact with the children. They should not alter the earlier routine at this time but should provide for their needs and give them psychological support.
Some children may be reluctant to react or respond to having fear of upsetting or hurting their parents. Such children should be encouraged to open up. Parents should try to convince their children that they did not contribute to divorce. They should also convince them that they had nothing to do to stop the divorce. The parent who remains with children should be close to them and frequently involved in their lives. He or she should avoid making negative statements about the divorced parent in the presence of the children. The children should be free to visit the parent who leaves the house. This assures the children of continued parental care and love (Emery, 2004).
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The parent who leaves the house should ensure that he gets in contact with the children regularly an avoid making promises which he or she will not fulfill. Parents should keep a keen track on the effects of divorce on the children, especially the school going kids, to ensure that they do not drop academically. They should also observe the children’s social life to ensure that they do not change negatively. Parents can help their children go through the effects accompanied by the divorce by buying books. This is especially necessary if the cause of the divorce is a sensitive issue. Parents should also be cautious when to introduce a new partner to the children. The duration of one year is usually not advisable since the memories of the divorced partner are still fresh in their minds.
The extended family members should also help the children to go through the divorce of their parents. Children tend to have a great attachment to their grandparents, and, therefore, grandparents should try and be involved in their grandchildren’s lives in incidences of divorcing parents. Some children open up to their grandparents, and this gives the grandparents a good chance to convince the children that, sometimes, it can become hard for adults to continue living together. This may change the children`s attitude towards the divorce of their parents, and they adjust easily. Relatives should support the children emotionally and show them, love.
Parents should avoid discussing divorce in the presence of children. Family friends also should visit the children frequently, show them love and help them to adjust. If the children are school going, teachers should handle them with caution and avoid making comments that may hurt their feelings. Teachers can encourage them through talks and help them understand that they have a life ahead. In case of a change in the behavior of the children, they can communicate with the parents or get the assistance of a counselor. This will ensure that the children overcome the effects of the divorce quickly and with no much harm. Peers can also help overcome the effects. They should encourage the children whose parents have separated and show them, love. In case of problems, they should be ready to listen to them and encourage them to open up. They should try to make them jovial by inviting them in their games and encouraging them to play and not to isolate themselves.
Marriages sometimes become hard to sustain, and partners decide to separate. In some cases, it is healthy to separate, but in most cases, separation causes great destruction. Children suffer greatly from the divorce of their parents. The ability of children to adjust depends on, among other things, their resilience. Children who are more resilient adjust easily and are not affected much compared to those who are less resilient. Children whose parents' divorce requires a lot of support from the family, peers, and teachers to assist them to overcome the trauma they go through when their parents separate. Separated parents should also take the well being of their children paramount and should constantly reassure them of their love. Parents, if possible, should try to avoid divorce at all costs, as it has many negative effects on them and their children.