5). While divorce can lead to safety for children and adults caught in violent and abusive relationships, it can also lead to increased violence down the line. Studies indicate that children who grow up in abusive situations often tend to become abusive themselves as adults, and this means that abuse and violence could continue to grow in our culture as these children grow up and continue the ongoing cycle of abuse and violence.
Another bedrock of American culture is religion, and divorce goes against many religious teachings. The freedom to worship any religion we please is a foundation of the country and our culture, and religious worship tends to go down in divorced families. Fagan and Rector continue, "Religious worship, which has been linked to health and happiness as well as longer marriages and better family life, is less prevalent in divorced families" (Fagan, and Rector). This means that religion could deteriorate in our culture, especially in religions that frown on divorce. Two other writers quote a child from a divorced family "My father was raised very Catholic and shortly after this had happened he stopped going to the Catholic Church because I feel he thought it is wrong to get divorced" (Harvey, and Fine 39). Children that stop going to church often do not begin again, and this can change culture dramatically, leaving it less spiritual, less cooperative, and less decent, as a result.
Another foundation of American life is the family unit. An "acceptable" family is father, mother, and children, but with divorce, this family unit is broken, and parents become single parents. Clearly, not every family in America is going to divorce, but those who do change the fabric of the American family, and create alternatives that go against what many people stand for in our culture. This lack of a parent changes the entire dynamics of the family, and how it is viewed by society and culture. First, the group is no longer "perfect," and second, new dynamics, such as parental dating and a parent having to get a job are introduced. They change the fabric of the family and remove the security the parent and child may have felt. Single parent families can lead to abuse, too. Doherty and his writers note, "Children living in single-mother homes have increased rates of death from intentional injuries" (Doherty et al. 17), which is a frightening statistic.
Too many single-parent families in America are changing the culture from family-oriented to a different, less appealing dynamic, and divorce is at the root of this changing dynamic. In addition, since fathers are often the absent partner in a single-parent family, children often do not develop good relationships with their father after a divorce, and do not develop the skills they need to become good fathers themselves, breaking down the culture even more (Doherty et al. 7).
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Our culture does not accept over-indulgence or addiction in most all cases. While alcohol is legal, alcoholism is not socially acceptable, and this is another area of our culture that can be affected by divorce, because children of divorced parents often have more problems with alcohol and drug addiction. One scholarly study showed that children from recent divorces did not drink any more than children from older divorces, but "Nevertheless, children whose parents had recently been divorced were more likely to drink alcohol in greater quantities more frequently and were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol, while at school" (Jeynes 305). In addition, children in two-parent households show less substance abuse of any type (Doherty et al. 13), probably because of the added stability of the traditional family in the child's life. Addiction and the healthcare to control addiction adds a heavy cost to our society, and it appears that divorce can help add to this cost by creating more addiction, alcoholism, and substance abuse in our culture.
Mental and Physical Health
Married people live longer than single people do, and that is a known fact (Doherty et al. 13). Married people also tend to be happier (unless they are in a bad marriage), and they suffer from fewer bouts of depression and other mental problems. Married people often have better healthcare options because they make more income than single people do, and they often support each other in health decisions, such as adopting a healthier lifestyle (Doherty et al. 13). Thus, marriage supports the health of the family, and as shown, supports the health of the children, especially when it comes to addiction, as well.
Divorced people are often less healthy for a number of reasons. They may not have health insurance or be able to afford health insurance. They eat far less healthy, because fresh, healthy food tends to be more expensive, and they tend to be always rushed or in a hurry, so they consume fast food and other foods that are unhealthy. Single parents are also at risk of more injuries, simply because there is no one there to help them with activities, or to discover them if they injure themselves.
Perhaps the most disturbing statistic about divorce and mental health is that divorced people are much more susceptible to suicide (Doherty et al. 14). Suicide is one of the least acceptable "solutions" to problems in our culture, and it creates massive reactions in the family, community, and culture. A child whose parent commits suicide suffers emotionally and mentally for their entire life, and they may become more susceptible to suicide themselves. A child whose parent commits suicide often has to experience censure or disapproval from other people, and find it even more difficult to deal with the situation. Marriage promotes better, healthier relationships, and divorce promotes ill health, both mental and physical, that can tear away the roots of American culture.
Acceptance and Legality
One of the things our culture can do to change divorce is to stop being so accepting of it. With the advent of no fault divorce, divorce has become more common and acceptable in society, and that allows more divorces to occur, winnowing away at American culture. No fault divorce has also lead to a great increase in divorce attorneys and laws, adding to an already overburdened legal system. Everything from alimony to child custody can end up in court, and even CPAs have to understand tax laws regarding alimony, as one lawyer explains, "The tax language in an agreement has to be explicit" (Maples). Thus, we have developed a culture of laws and acceptance of divorce that does not help promote marriage or staying together in our culture. Divorce adversely affects our culture in many ways, and for that to stop, we need fewer divorces and more loving marriages in this country.
In conclusion, it can be said that divorce alters just about every aspect of American culture, from family to education and far beyond. The foundation of American culture is the family, and with divorce, the bedrock is shaken and often cannot survive. Children need strong families to thrive, and they may be the biggest victims of divorce, because they can carry the scars of divorce, throughout their lives, altering the patterns of family and marriage forever (Fagan, and Rector). Children from divorce tend to be more violent, poverty-stricken, and less educated, and all of those things suck the very air out of American culture and society.
Butler, Ian, et al. Divorcing Children: Children's Experience of Their Parents' Divorce. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2003.
Cozort, Larry a. "Is the Tax Court Becoming a Divorce Court? The Answer Could Change How the Innocent Spouse Rules Are Interpreted." Journal of Accountancy 195.2 (2003): 35+.
Doherty, William J., et al. "Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-One Conclusions from the Social Sciences." New York: Institute for American Values, 2002.