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Children of DivorceRegardless of age, race, sex or religion, divorce has devastating, often long-term, consequences

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Introduction

Children of Divorce Regardless of age, race, sex or religion, divorce has devastating, often long-term, consequences. The immediate effects of divorce, such as hurt, anger and confusion, are evident in both children and adults. The longer-term effects are not so easy to pin point. Adults are usually able to articulate their emotions and verbalize their distress, anger, pain and confusion to help themselves through this period of transition in their lives. As well, adults have the means and ability to seek outside professional assistance independently. Children on the other hand, are not as likely to have the ability to identify the source or kind of turmoil they are experiencing. Therefore, it is difficult for us, as adults, to be fully aware of the consequences of divorce on our children. It is estimated that nearly one half of children born today will spend time in a single parent household. Although some of these children are born into single parent families, many more are the product of divorce, and are made to endure the conflict and emotional upset that divorce brings about. At this time, when children require stability and emotional support, the pressures of growing up are often compounded by the stress of divorce and family breakdown. ...read more.

Middle

Likewise, parents who suddenly find themselves overburdened by their increased workload may let their routines and schedules slip and ultimately the children once again lose support. Divorce is typically followed by a "crisis period" typically lasting for two to three years. This crisis period is commonly composed of three crises: emotional crisis, economic crisis, and parenting crisis. This crisis period is usually worse for boys, and brings with it two general types of behavior problems among children: externalizing disorders and internalizing disorders. Girls are more likely to suffer the internalizing disorders, and become anxious and depressed, whereas boys are most likely to suffer the externalizing disorders and become more physically and verbally aggressive. Parents, who are frequently caught up in their own crisis, may miss these cries for help, or deal harshly with any bad behavior exhibited by their children. This only serves to perpetuate the problem by causing a vicious cycle of misbehavior and harsh response. Children need two things during the crisis period that typically follows divorce: emotional support and structure. Unfortunately parents, as well as teachers and other close adults, frequently overlook these needs, and school performance drops as a result of the anxiety and divided loyalties that the children may feel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Authors and researchers, Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur have proposed some social changes that would help to heal, educate and prevent the devastating effects of divorce on children. Their proposal includes that young adults be educated about the risks of non-marital parenthood. It suggests that government programs such as mother's allowances be available to all families in an attempt to keep two parent families from breaking under financial stresses. They further recommend that community involvement be increased to help both struggling parents and their children. McLanahan and Sandefur offer suggestions for making these ideas work. These include extending school hours and using the facilities for extracurricular activities such as music, sport and art. Developing mentor programs would give these children an opportunity to become a part of their community in helpful ways while teaching them skills and giving them the opportunity for nurturing adult relationships. In any case, with the divorce trend seemingly irreversible, it is obvious that we need to do something to take the burden off of the children who fall through the cracks of divorce. Leaving things as they are will only encourage an increase in delinquency and single parenthood in future generations. The time has come to give childhood back to the children and responsibility for the children back to the parents. ...read more.

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