Psychological Effects Of Divorce On Children And Co-Parental Relations Research Paper

Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children and Co-Parental Relations Today, it is not possible for people to not take into account the considerable outcomes and consequences of divorce. According to social scientists, the ever increasing rates of parents ending their marriages is not only hurting the society but also upsetting and destroying the lives of children. Not only does divorce devastates the family life but also impacts the attainment of education, solidity of job, income potential, physical health, emotional well-being, alcohol and drug addiction and offensive activities (Fagan & Rector, 2000).

Millions of children all over the world suffer overwhelmingly when their parents end their marriages. Research shows that the outcomes of divorce go on with a child into his/her adulthood. Not only the adolescence of the individual is affected but it also crushes the next generation of children also. It is observed that the effects of divorce are mostly certain, severe, lifelong and critical. Thus, there is a need to do something about it to protect the affected children. The consequences of divorce in long-term devastates the nation as well because no nation can progress with psychologically-affected adults. Therefore, in order to reverse the effects of divorce, steps are to be taken to bring a cultural shift in the attitudes of the people. There is a dire need to change the perspective of the people regarding divorce who still consider it as an "OK" process. People must understand and realize that it is not ok for parents to end their marital bond based on silly issues (Fagan & Rector, 2000).

Why must we condemn divorce?

The dilemma, plight and troubles faced and experienced by the children of divorce are enough to condemn divorce at every level. Their conditions crystal-clearly point towards the continuous effects of divorce which are reflected into every aspect of their lives. The children of divorced parents become the victims of abuse and sufferers of ignorance and abandonment. They show signs of more problems related to their health, behavior, personality and emotions. They are also found to be involved in illicit and illegal activities and drug abuse. Not only this, such children commit suicides when they cannot endure the outcomes of divorce (Fagan & Rector, 2000).

Children of divorced parents also exhibit a weakened learning capacity. Their performance in the classrooms is really poor if compared with their fellow students. They display diminished reading and writing skills, spell poorly and are weak in mathematical calculations. Records show that children belonging to families where the parents have divorced also have higher dropout rates and mostly fail to attain graduation degree from colleges (Fagan & Rector, 2000).

Divorce also is seen to affect the primary household of a child by reducing its income. It affects the whole system of the house by severely diminishing the potential of household members to build up money for surviving in the present and securing the future. The drop in income of the families who were well-off and affluent before the taking place of divorce has been recorded to be as much as 50%. The divorced families are not much into religious worship and spirituality. This is the reason why there are more chances of divorces because religion is not prevalent in such families and thus, health, happiness, longer marriages and better family life are not prayed for (Fagan & Rector, 2000).

Divorce has distinct devastating effects. Research in this area demonstrates astonishingly regrettable results by showing how it weakens the relationship between a child and his parents on a permanent basis. Divorce leads a child to disparaging ways of conflict management. Such children also have an inferior sense of self. Children of divorce reveal an earlier loss of virginity. The dilemma does not end here. They also demonstrate signs of "more cohabitation, higher expectations of divorce, higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have children" (Fagan & Rector, 2000). Their future family life becomes a critical one as they tend to break their families in the same way they saw their parents doing.

Therefore, if societies where the rates of divorce are exceedingly higher, do not take immediate steps to put a stop to divorce then this dilemma would "continue the downward spiral into social decay" (Fagan & Rector, 2000).

Stressors of the Divorce Process

An extraordinarily large number of children live in divorces families. Regrettably, the marital dissolution brings complex consequences along with it, particularly for the ill-fated children. This unlucky event not only changes the finances of the family and the parenting practices but also results in increased parental conflict and erosion of the important relationships. Divorce is also associated with weakened...


Their reactions and attitudes depend on the circumstances such as their age and mental/maturity level at the time of divorce. However, divorce has a negative impact on the children's outcomes if observed generally. For researchers, divorce is not an event but a process (Potter, August 2010). A few decades ago, the concept of divorce was renewed by considering it "a process extending over time that involved multiple changes and potential challenges for children, rather than as a single event" (Kelly & Emery, October 2003). The number, cruelty and time of separation and divorce-engendered traumatic causes differ from childto child and family to family. The duration of a divorce to happen also varies. The temporary and lasting responses and consequences of children are affected by various stressors such as "the nature of the initial separation, parental adjustment and resources, parental conflict and cooperation, repartnering of one or both parents, stability of economic resources, and children's own individual resources" (Kelly & Emery, October 2003).
These various unbearable stressors mentioned above get in the way of children's abilities to deal with and muddle through with the divorce process. Thus, children have higher risks of psychological difficulties with the passage of time.

Initial Separation

A significant number of children and adolescents experience the early period subsequent to the separation of their parents quite traumatically. Various children become stressed as they had seen violence and elevated quarrels and arguments in the marriage. On the other hand, most of the children respond to divorce with grief, nervousness, fury, distress, disbelief and anxiety as they are not emotionally prepared for the separation of their parents. Usually, such response towards the family crisis lasts only for a period of 1-2 years. To make matters worse, parents mostly do not inform their children about the status of their marriage (separation or divorce). This untold fact consequently complicates the attempts of children to deal with the major changes following separation. They find themselves alone to struggle with the painful suffering and it becomes hard for them to interpret the significance of such a distressed event in their lives. As a result, they tend to become isolated, emotionally confused and cognitively perplexed. Furthermore, the majority of parents are unsuccessful in communicating and deciding about helpful supervision and access preparations for the children. They also fail to communicate the immediate and long-term influential "changes in family structure, living arrangements, and parent-child relationships" (Kelly & Emery, October 2003) with the victims of divorce i.e. children.

According to a study regarding the parent child communications about divorce, just 5% of the children said that they knew all about the divorce of their parents. On the other hand, 23% of the children said they did not know about the approaching change in the family structure and 45% informed that they were explained about the divorce in 1-2 abrupt sentences (Kelly & Emery, October 2003).

The trauma of children gets evens more intensified when one parent departs abruptly. Generally, it is the father who leaves the household. In cases when temporary court orders are absent, most children do not have the chance to meet their nonresident parents for a long period of time i.e. For weeks or months. The children who are emotionally attached with the parent who leaves, such an abrupt change in the family is really difficult, upsetting and agonizing (Kelly & Emery, October 2003).

Parental Conflict

Unrelenting and constant conflict between parents next to separation and divorce also becomes a major stressor for children. Children, who belong to families where parents have separated or divorced, experience high conflicts during their parents' marriage. Some couples lessen their differences once they separate or divorce. However, some of the couples continue to quarrel even after divorce which greatly affects the children. Therefore, some children continue to muddle through persisitent conflicts after divorce. On the other hand, some experience considerably lesser incidents of quarrel and argument. Postdivorce conflicts are reported to inflict more unfavorable effects on the children as compared to conflicts that occur in the families where marriage is still undissolved. When parents use their children as an object to show their anger, it becomes quite stressful for the children. Children become more depressed and anxious when parents ask them to carry aggressive messages to the other or when one parent belittles…

Sources Used in Documents:


Arditti, J.A., & Kelly, M. (January 1994). Fathers' Perspectives of Their Co-parental Relationships Postdivorce: Implications for Family Practice and Legal Reform. Family Relations, 43, 61-67.

Baum, N. (Spring 2003). Divorce Process Variables and the Co-parental Relationship and Parental Role Fulfillment of Divorced Parents. Family Process, 42, 117-131.

Fagan, P.F., & Rector, R. (2000, October). The Effects of Divorce on America. World and I, 15. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from Questia database:

Kelly, J.B. (March 2007). Children's Living Arrangements Following Separation and Divorce: Insights From Empirical And Clinical Research. Family Process,46, 35-52.

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