Free Essay

Divorce and Adolescents

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By jlthomas15
Words 1289
Pages 6
PSYC 231

Children and Adolescents are believed to be resilient to most situations including divorce. Experts argue that when parents handle their divorce in an amicable way the effects on their children are minimal. Unfortunately this is not true, as a divorce not only affects the married couple but the entire family will now live a new life. In this paper I will attempt to refute the claim that an amicable divorce has a less traumatic effect on an adolescent’s development, behavior, social life/relationships, and academics.
Key Words: Adolescent, Relationships, Divorce, Resilience, Development, Behavior

It is estimated that forty percent of all marriages in the United States ended in divorce in 2011 (CDC, 2011). Of the forty percent, more than half of those divorces involved children and/or adolescents (Amato, 2000). Adolescence is a confusing time filled with body changes, the challenge of no longer being a child, but not quite ready for adulthood, and the need to establish their own identity. When a teenager’s parents make the decision to divorce it complicates the teenagers life and interrupts the stability that they need during adolescence.
The adolescent years are a time when children become teenagers on their journey towards eventually becoming adults. A major developmental shift happens between the ages of twelve and eighteen as teenagers begin to develop their identity. These adolescents have the task of discovering their purpose and place in the world. They are attempting to limit their reliance on their parents although they are not completely ready for independence. Teenagers are attempting to establish their own life through friendships, social networking and activities while they are expected to maintain a stable family relationship. This is a challenging and confusing time for these teens attempting to become independent as they learn to navigate the future. Nowinski tells us that an adolescent’s identity is formed through significant adult relationships with parents and teachers (2010). Being an adolescent with divorced parents makes it difficult for the teenager to establish their own identity; they may feel forced to live a life of their parent’s choice, fearful of disappointing them. Divorce also can become a serious distraction for the parents who would otherwise be focused on their teen’s developmental changes. Finally, a divorce may affect a teenagers attempt to develop their own identity as they are now subject to more than one household, new friends, and possibly a new school.
According to Clarke-Stewart & Brentano, young adolescents (age twelve to fourteen) may display negative behavior when confronted with their parent’s separation. This behavior is due to their age and the increasing amount of hormonal and development changes these teens are experiencing, they are very vulnerable to the changes that divorce can bring. When a teenager’s parents announce they are divorcing, the responses may be to overreact with anguish or anxiety. In their adolescent egocentrism they can see only their own needs and they feel that the world’s eyes are on them (Clarke-Stewart & Brentano, 2006). In many families young adolescents are beginning to accept more responsibility around the home, a divorce may create feelings of having to grow up quickly. In the aftermath of a parents divorce, adolescents experience lower levels of psychological adjustment and self-esteem and higher levels of depression and anxiety than their peers who live in a two parent household (Demo & Fine, 2009).
Older adolescents may not have as much difficulty adjusting to their parent’s divorce as their younger. Most fifteen to eighteen year olds have developed an identity and are involved in their own activities. However, if these teens are not clear in their identity or sense of self, the opposite outcome will possibly present itself. When parent’s divorce, especially if the divorce is unexpected, adolescents’ developing identity can be thrown into chaos and their self-confidence may be undermined (Clarke-Stewart & Brentano, 2006). In a longitudinal study performed by Iowa State University and funded by The National Institute of Mental Health it was determined that seventeen percent of boys and eight percent of girls from divorced families admitted to having committed at least six delinquent acts in one year (Clarke-Stewart, & Brentano, 2006). Demo & Fine also cite several studies that have consistently reported that on average adolescents with divorced parents experience more behavioral problems, engage in more delinquent activities, and experience higher levels of drug and alcohol use than adolescents from two parent households (2009).
The effects of divorce on teenager’s social skills can present themselves in a variety of ways. Teens may be angry at the loss of additional income to the family believing this will affect their social status. Teens who are close to their families may feel a loss when one parent leaves the home; trying to fill the void by using drugs, alcohol or sexual encounters. If the teenager has to relocate and attend a new school, they may withdraw and fail to develop new relationships with peers at their new school.
Divorce can have a lasting effect on a child’s academic performance. Divorce affects secure attachments, which can have a negative impact on behavior in childhood (Sortino, 2013). Since children of divorce often believe they have been abandoned, their attitudes towards school and learning are often times negative.
Teenagers are attempting to develop into their own distinctive person and a parent’s divorce can be very disruptive to them and their future plans. Adolescents may be asked to take on extra responsibility giving them a false sense of maturity (Clarke-Stewart & Brentano, 2006). Clarke-Stewart & Brentano also warn us that these teens may be looking for a way to fill the void of love they believe they are missing, using drugs, alcohol and other distractions to numb their pain. All of this can lead to poor performance or skipping school altogether (2006). It is believed that older teens are less likely to experience the same challenges as the younger children do. Nonetheless, they may experience a variety of emotional and relational problems, making it difficult to focus on their school performance. Demo & Fine tell us that children of divorce perform poorly in a variety of academic areas including, standardized testing, grade point averages, and educational attainment. Children of divorced parents are also more likely to drop out of high school (2009, pg. 125). They also note that students who have experienced multiple divorces have significantly lower grades than students who have only experienced one divorce (2009, Pg. 126).
Through a variety of research on divorce this paper has shown the numerous negative effects it can have on adolescents through the various stages. Everything from a teenager’s development to their school performance can be affected. While many would argue that it is better for an adolescent’s wellbeing if the parents separate rather than live in an unhappy situation I believe the research shows it is important for parents to weigh all of the consequences of divorce before making a final decision.

APA References
Amato, P. R. (2000), The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62: 1269–1287. Clarke-Stewart, A., & Brentano, C. (2006). Divorce : Causes and Consequences. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press. Demo, D.H., Fine, M.A. (2009). Beyond the Average Divorce. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications
Nowinski, Joseph (2010). Divorced Child: Strengthening Your Family Through the First Three Years of Separation. Basingstoke, Hampshire, GBR: Palgrave Macmillan.
Sortino, D. (2013, May 05). THE IMPACT OF DIVORCE ON LEARNING. The Press Democrat.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

The Psychological and Emotional Effects of Divorce in Adolescents

...Effects of Divorce in Adolescents Danielle Nicole Mickens Holmes Community College Abstract Lately there has been an increase in the divorce rates in the United States. While there may be ways to prevent it, it affects the lifestyles of adolescents’ and other people around them. Usually children and adolescents take divorce harder than the adults involved. This review shows how adolescents can be psychologically and emotionally affected by divorce. It also reviews how they may be able to cope during the process of divorce. The Psychological and Emotional Affects of Divorce in Adolescents “Till death do us part” are the vows people normally say when they get married. People often dream of a fairy tale wedding and they also believe that they have found what they may call their soul mates. Apparently as years go by, those vows and beliefs seems to decrease. Divorce is known as dissolving the legal union of marriage. And with that being said the divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. 50% of marriages end in divorce. However, children and adolescents that are involved in the divorce can be psychological and emotionally affected by it. Divorces can change a person’s lifestyle. (Wendel, 1997) One out of every two marriages that end in divorce includes children and adolescents. Research collected gives an understanding on how adolescents psychologically act, emotionally feel, and the resources they have to cope with the......

Words: 1393 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Literature in Broken Family

...Literature 1 Effects of Broken Family to the Adolescent In this regard, Sherman (1983) conducted a comprehensive review of the early literature on the psychosocial correlates of adolescent substance abuse. He concluded that: The majority of research studies supported the traditional view of the adolescent substance abuser as rebellious, lacking in self-esteem, having a low sense of psychological well-being, poor academic performance, low religiosity, a broken family, anxiety, alienation, and maladjustment. (p. 134) This section of the presented review of the literature indicated that there is a clear and direct correlation between adolescent substance abuse and parental divorce with the likelihood being that parental divorce is, at least to some extent, a causative factor in both use and abuse of drugs and alcohol among teens. The next question that needs to be asked regarding these findings is: What are the types and kinds of treatment being given to these youngsters and how effective are these interventions? In an effort to answer this question, the next section of the presented review examines studies related to the treatment of adolescent substance abusers from divorced families. The treatments that have been implemented with adolescent substance abusers are varied. According to Jenson, Howard and Jaffe (1995), the most common of these are: social skills training, family therapy, case management systems, most of which utilize posttreatment support groups to maintain......

Words: 2525 - Pages: 11

Free Essay

The Impact of Divorce on Children Under the Age of Eighteen

...The Impact of Divorce on Children Under the Age Of Eighteen Benjamin D. Hinely Liberty University Online PSYC 210 – D29 Abstract Divorce is the act of separating two married individuals legally and absolves both parties of marital obligation. It is, by its nature, destructive and stressful. Pulling a family apart rarely happens along clean lines and children can often be left confused and permanently effected emotionally and mentally. Depression is a major result in children. As are self esteem issues regarding self worth in relation to possible future marriage partners. In addition, there are other general relational problems. Children previously affected by divorce are more likely to see it as an option in their own relationships. Problems with relating to others and a lack of ability to trust implicitly are common as well. Academics are often negatively affected (ie. lower grades, in class disturbances, concentration conflicts) by these factors. It isn’t universal, however, that divorce always is a negative influence. There are those who go on to have good relationships and marriages. It is then not an exact thing to say divorce is always harmful to children. But the possibilities do exist and should then be accounted for. . Research The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines divorce as “the action or an instance of legally dissolving a marriage and or separation and severance.” In more practical and real terms it is where two people split up their lives and......

Words: 1932 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

The Devastating Results of Divorce on Children

...RESULTS 1 The Devastating Results of Divorce on Children The Devastating Results 2 Abstract The sanctity of marriage, created by God, was intended for one man and one woman for life. At the Fall of man sin entered the world, and our fleshly desires began governing our actions and decisions. This is evident as we have seen our divorce rates reach nearly 50 percent. The no fault divorce has enabled us to make divorce such an easy “decision of convenience” for struggling marriages, and as a result we have become desensitized to its devastating ramifications. Though it is the adults who determine to dissolve the commitment, it is the children who suffer the greatest consequences. Divorce sets in motion a series of negative events and transitions that are related to the child’s psychological distress which is possibly more potent than the physical separation of parents. This will essentially affect the child in every aspect of his/her life - emotional, behavioral, educational, economical, and relational. Such ramifications are immediate as well as long term. To hinder the all too familiar “decisions of convenience” I emphatically believe the courts should return to its more restrictive divorce guidelines; and our nation needs to return to “One Nation Under God”. The Devastating Results 3 Researching articles, journals, and other sources for my paper “The Devastating Results of Divorce on Children” has been an eye-opening......

Words: 1863 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay


...Divorce and Children According to the study that was done in 2004 "In the United States, between 43% and 50% of first marriages end in divorce"(U.S Census Bureau qtd inLansford 140). One can assume that many children will experience some affects caused by divorce. There is evidence to support that children would be better off if the parents stayed married and there is equal supporting evidence that it would be better off if they divorced. A survey done in 2009 by 1000 teenagers "When asked what the teens wanted their parents to know they said that divorce "hurts," "sucks" and that they "don’t want to be blamed for it" or caught in the middle"(GordonPoll Youth Survey qtd inJolivet 175). There are three main areas that impact children's experience with divorce such as behavioral, psychological, and social issues. Children are effected by divorce in many ways which cause their behavior to not be normal. When children go through a traumatic event, such as losing a parent to divorce, they want to act out because they are hurt, and do not know what to do with their emotions. An article written by Ahron Constance states "…..divorce prevents certain risks, is an emotionally stressful and complex transition for families, and continues to affect children into adulthood" (55). Divorce is a hard thing for children to learn how to cope with. Children of different ages rebel in different ways; they do this because at different age levels they cannot comprehend certain things and are...

Words: 2235 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

How Divorce Impacts Children Under the Age of 18

...How Divorce Impacts Children Under the Age of 18 F. Jeanpierre Psychology Abstract In this research you will see how divorce impacts children under the age of 18.  The effects are not universal. Divorce affects children differently based on their age, personality and sexuality. Divorce affects children both mentally and physically. In this research, you will see how divorce can impact children immediately as well as post divorce. I will start with infants, preschool age children, school-aged and then adolescents. Then you will see how divorce affects children spiritually. Furthermore, you will see how the affect of divorce varies based on the child's gender. Finally, in this research paper, you will see ways to help a child adjust after divorce. Infants The first age group is infants.  Not too much is known on the affects of divorce for children under the age of 3. Some have speculated that children under the age of 3 does not always suffer from their parents divorced. Thus, sociologist and psychologist agreed that problems in personality can developed if the child had a strong bond between the parents and those bonds are broken due to the divorce.  Professionals highly encourage parents to make arrangements so the potential, full affect of the divorce won’t impact the child as much. The conflict of divorce may not be understood by infants, but they can react to changes in the parent’s level of energy and involvement. Infants can lose their appetite, have an......

Words: 2164 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Broken Family

...structure to change. Divorce is an unexpected event in a family's life. It is something that affects each member of a family at different times and in different ways. This can change this attachment style and can make a child have feelings of anger, bitterness and confusion, which can alter the child's ability to form meaningful relationships. This is one impact that can take on adolescents, after a parental separation. When separation occurs, it’s very typical for adolescents to be unhappy and want their parents to remain together. That unhappiness can translate into low self-esteem, behavioral problems, and a sense of loss. That’s in the short term. There are also longer term effects that can result from separation or divorce. These, though, certainly don’t apply to all adolescents from separated families. There is a tendency to perform to a lower standard in school, which can eventually mean that as adults they won’t have good jobs.  It has been shown in prior studies that family structure is one of the factors that influence an adolescent's success. Parental separation is a stressful period for adolescents and involves a lot of adjustment. Parents are the most important and valued source of support for adolescents at the time of separation and can help them to understand what is happening without involving them in any disputes. Older adolescents may be more capable of understanding the reasons behind parental separation than younger adolescents. Parents need......

Words: 984 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Divorce Effecting Children

...In 2011 the divorce rate in Maryland 2.9 per 1,000 total populations residing in the area. The divorce rate throughout the whole United States in 2010 was 3.6 per 1,000 total populations. (Marriage and Divorce) The rate that people are getting divorced is an increasing number by weeks to months to years. The little to no thought that gets put into people getting married, but do not realize the negative outcomes divorce has on a single person. “20 to 25 percent of children do show signs that they are not dealing well with this change in the relationship between their mothers and fathers, and some of the problems they develop may continue into adult life.” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) Divorce for children can be a confusing and sensitive topic to live through or talk about, it can be frightening, life changing, and unpredictable. Divorce has a negative affect on children they drop out of school, abuse substances, behave in sexual acts, relationships with their parents decline, and social classes might be affected. The first divorce in America was on January 5, 1643. “In the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit presented to John Winthrop Jr., the son of the colony's founder, Denis Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife, with whom he had two......

Words: 1712 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

The Impact of Divorce on Children

...The Impact of Divorce on Children PSYC 210-D06 Abstract Divorce has become a new common way of life in our current society that we find ourselves in. We must understand the impact that divorce has on children as it plays a major role on a family physically and emotionally. In this research you will see how divorce impacts children under the age of 18, that divorce has an impact on children. This paper will also provide solutions to assist the children on how to manage.  Most often when children experience a feeling of not needing to move forward due to such a drastic change like divorce. Finally, in this research paper, you will see ways to help a child adjust after divorce. Divorce has a strong impact on children based inversely on their ages. Sociologist and psychologist have considered that a child under the age of 3 does not always hurt from their parents divorced. They have agreed that problems in temperament can developed if the child had a strong bond between the parents and those connections are broken due to the divorce.  According to “Paternal Participation and Children’s Well-Being After Marital Dissolution” we can see the effect in the different stages of their lives: Children ages 3-5 frequently blame themselves for the divorce.  The impact leads them to imagine that they are the source of their parents divorcing. Elementary school children are cognitively established enough to understand that they are in pain because the divorce. Accordingly,......

Words: 1009 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Unhappily Ever After? the Vicious Cycle of Divorce

...Considering all the repercussions involved in divorce, such as economic and emotional damage, is it better to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children? Divorce creates a vicious family cycle that is most difficult to break once it has begun. Psychological, economic and emotional methods of thinking must be completely reconfigured in order to have a remote chance that the cycle in families will break. Divorce represents a catastrophic change in the marital cycle. Divorce may bring to light many areas of marital conflict that children could be previously unaware of (Hines, 1997). So much of a child’s happiness and fulfillment is dependent upon their parents. It may be difficult for children to avoid taking sides in parental disputes and conflicts that occur during or after the divorce or separation. How divorce affects the child and child-parent relationships, the legal implications of divorce on the couple, and the impact of divorce on the society at large will be examined. Much evidence from various sources concurs with the theory that children, who are directly exposed to divorce, suffer more than children from intact families in a variety of ways. They exhibit more conduct problems, more symptoms of psychological problems, lower academic achievement, more social difficulties and worse self-esteem (Amarto, 1997). Although various legal and therapeutic interventions are used to improve the well being of children of divorce, little research has been......

Words: 2337 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Impact of Divorce on Chridren

...What is the Impact of divorce on children and adolescents? RUCHISMITA Initial Reactions of Children to Divorce 1. Divorce is an intensely stressful experience for all children, regardless of age or developmental level; many children are inadequately prepared for the impending divorce by their parents. A study in 1980 found that less than 10% of children had support from adults other than relatives during the acute phase of the divorce. 2. The pain experienced by children at the beginning of a divorce is composed of: a sense of vulnerability as the family disintegrates, a grief reaction to the loss of the intact family. 3. Many children do not realize their parents' marriage is troubled), loss of the non-custodial parent, a feeling of intense anger as the disruption of the family, and strong feelings of powerlessness. 4. Unlike bereavement or other stressful events, it is almost unique to divorcing families that as children experience the onset of this life change, usual and customary support systems tend to dissolve, though the ignorance or unwillingness of adults to actively seek out this support for children. Developmental Considerations in the Response of Children 1. A major focus of the scholarly literature on divorce is the grouping of common reactions of children by age groups. 2. Preschool (ages 3-5): These children are likely to exhibit a regression of the most recent developmental milestone achieved. Additionally, sleep disturbances and an exacerbated fear......

Words: 1750 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Not Yet

...children “Broken” Homes: The Effect of Divorce on Children Going through a divorce is a very difficult situation to be in. Usually it is what is happening between the parents, that concerns most people. However hurtful divorce is on the couple that is going through it, the children end up with the greatest amount of problems. These problems that the children develop are not always obvious, and do no always come to the surface right away. “Most often the children responded to the announcement [of the divorce] with apprehensiveness or anger . . . Several children panicked . . . finally, a great many of the younger children, about one-third of the entire group, didn’t really believe what they had been told. For these youngsters, the single announcement by the parents made it easier for them to pretend that the divorce would soon go away and to postpone their own response to the frightening changes in their lives” (Wallerstein 40-41). Children often try to stop the divorce of their parents, but there are many who seem to accept it at first. These who seem to accept it may even tell their parents that they are happy about the divorce. This is not necessarily the case, as one would see if he or she spoke with the child for a while. There are many things that divorce does to a family, and there are many things that is does to the child. These effects are rarely positive, or helpful depending upon the family’s prior situation. Divorce has many negative effects on the......

Words: 1205 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

The Effects of Divorce on Children

...Abstract One of two marriages ends in divorce. This fact impacts the loves of many children because the effect of divorce is not limited to the adults. Divorce deeply effects everyone involved especially the children. Research provides evidence of the negative impact on children and how it effects the differently according to the age. It is important that the adults involved be aware of the consequences their divorce will have on the life of their children and take responsibility of setting guidelines for themselves to help their child through this difficult time. Based on careful studies, it is shown that children of divorced parents can function and love normal lives. With a good support system and parents who are willing to move past divorce, children can learn to cope with divorce and move on themselves. Introduction Being a parent can be a demanding job; especially if you are parenting more than one child. This demand grows as the child grows. Children are involved in different activities and also trying to keep up with friends and the technology of today’s world; parenting can be time consuming and expensive. Also, when parents set boundaries for their children, they must be consistent with them. These areas are demanding enough in a two parent home, and twice as hard for a single-parent. In theory, children’s overall well-being will improve if they are raised by married parents. The parents must be happily married for this......

Words: 3213 - Pages: 13

Free Essay


...The Impact of Divorce on Children Sociology 210 Amy Totten Abstract How do children react to divorce? In most recent times, the impact of divorce on children has emerged as a problem of concern. Divorce may be the most devastating situation that can happen to children. Alarmingly, studies have revealed that 50 percent of children under the age of 18 will experience the dissolution of their parents’ marriage. When a divorce occurs, parents tend to forget about the child and do not realize how much of a negative impact that it has on the child. Children already go through enough stress of just everyday situations and to add to it only make things worse. The impact of divorce will affect each child differently, but all will experience some type of emotional distress. This paper will provide a detailed description of the emotional and psychological effects of divorce on infants; school aged children and adolescents, behavioral development in children of divorce, and strategies to help children cope with divorce. The Impact of Divorce on Children The traditional lifestyle of living with both parents is almost rare in today’s society. Divorce is a very tragic situation especially when it involves children. As the world turns, the divorce rates continue to rise. Studies have revealed that 50 percent of children under the age of 18 will experience divorce. In the process of the divorce parents really don’t understand that through divorce it affects them but it...

Words: 759 - Pages: 4

Free Essay


...specific topics related to children's development. Do the following: Prepare a flyer consisting of the three following sections: 1. The effects of divorce on children 2. How video games affect violence in children 3. The value and/or harm of online relationships for adolescents Each section should include a brief paragraph summarizing what research says about the topic. 1. Follow each of the paragraphs with a bulleted list of facts pertaining to that topic that would be of interest to parents. When a children’s parents divorce, they often times feel pulled into a whirlpool of loneliness, fear and guilt. When one parent makes the decision to leave, the child may fear that the other parent will follow. Even after the parents provide the child with reassurance, the child can still be controlled by the idea that they caused the breakup. In almost every situation, the child worries about what will happen to them; a fear that is very logical. There are many different ways children can react to divorce. Some will show signs of sleeplessness and depression, while others feel anxious that they will be rejected or abandoned by one or the other. Due to the absence of one of the parents, some situations cause the child to feel lonely. Continual broken promises are placed on a level far beyond its genuine importance. In every situation of divorce, a child will be affected in some way. Most of these effects will be dependent on how both parents are able to handle the situation. ......

Words: 555 - Pages: 3