it is projected that the majority of youngsters under the age of 18 will
spend some part of their childhood in single parent families. The vast
majority of these will be created by divorce.
in 1990, there were 1.2 million divorces, with more than one million
children involved in these divorces. Since the mother is often the
primary parent, the discussion below assumes that this is the case.
statistics show that divorce has become a significant and predictable
life event. It is a complicated process that can provide the children
involved new opportunities for growth or forge lifelong emotional
wide range of outcomes can occur even for children within the same
family. The divorce impact and reaction of children is determined by
several factors including the child’s gender, position in the family and
individual temperament. However, the two most improtant factors are the
child’s age and the nature of the parent’s adjustment. Quite simply
put, it is how well the parent handle the divorce transition that affect
the children far more than the divorce itself.
are some universal reactions that can be relaibly predicted. Children
blame themselves. They fear that they will lose both parents. They feel
rejected. Children worry. They worry about being taken care of, about
being left alone, about moving even about having their basic needs met.
Children feel torn between both of their parents. Children think that
they have to protect their parents, or worse, they think that they must
care for their parents.
are differences in how boys and girls react to divorce. Boys take
divorce harder than girls. Single mothers have a more difficult
relationship with their sons than they do with theri daughters and more
than do mothers in married families.
examples of a child’s reaction might be that your four year old may
suddenly start wetting her bed again or stop using her fork. She is not
necessarily being ornery but she may be trying to hide from the divorce
in the safer world of infancy. Or your six year old son suddeny starts
bullying his first grade friends. He is not necessarily turing into a
ruffian but is probably acting out his anger at his father for leaving
or his mother for letting it happen and most important, at himself for
Divorce, like any other crisis, has its own timetable-one that takes approximately three years to work through.
critical period for all children is the year following the actual
physical separation. Divorcing parents are almost always distracted
during the initial period and this is when the children are most likely
to react. Rules, routines, discipline and even play periods are thrown
into disarray as thefamily attempts to find its own new rhythms.
the second year begins, life gets better, especially for the young
girls. Life has begun to settle down. The new single mother, if she has
not worked out of the home before, has usually found some sort of
outside employment. If the family is forced to move, they have usually
done so. The pattern of time sharing has been established.
may be moving forward in a positive or negative way, but it is
predictable. Children need their life to be predictable. Boys continue
to be more aggressive and to have a more difficult relationship with
all has gone smoothly, the third year usually sees the end of the
divorce cycle. If not, the stress continues. On the good side, parents
have settled down enough to turn their attention back to the children.
New routines and new rules have been established. The future can begin
to look brighter.
that there are several factors that help determine the child’s reaction
to divorce, it is still important to understand the effect children’s
developmental states have on their reaction to divorce.
know that the parental divorce is and of itself not as much a
determinant of a child’s poor adjustment as is the climate in which your
child continues to live.
want to believe that their children will be fine; that divorce will not
harm their children; that their children will grow up to have happy and
lengthy family lives of their own. As parent learn about the divorce
process, they will be able to minimize their own and their children’s
parent’s can control their own emotions and get their lives back on
track, their children will have a better chance of coming through the
divorce process minimally scathed.
who maintain a working relationship with each other also help the
children come through this process with the least permanent damage. If
both parents can maintain open lines of communication and share
parenting decisions, the effects of divorce on the children can be
is for life-even though marriage isn’t always. Children can survive and
even benefit from a helathy divorce if the parents can keep their
differences between themselves and continue positive involvement with
the children. CHILDREN SUFFER THE MOST IN BAD MARRIAGES AND IN BITTER