Good Research Paper On Divorce And Children

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Family, Marriage, Children, Divorce, Parents, Development, Sociology, Education

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/10/18


Divorce rates have been increasing throughout the decades. In the United States alone, the divorce rate increased up to 79 % between 1970 and 1979. Even if there is an increase in the rates each year, large numbers of marriages end up in a divorce which could imply complicated consequences on the children as well as on the society (Bernardi & Radl, 2014). Numerous researchers are studying the effects of divorce on the development of children due to the large divorce rates. In 1970, most of the researchers agreed that at some point, children are better to live with only one parent than living on both. Their main reason is that living on parent decrease the possibility of conflict and abuse within the family. However, there are still many people who argue that divorce have negative impacts on the development of children (Demo & Acock, 1988).
The early researches about the effects of divorce on children focus on the short-term effects. They are mostly observing the effects of divorce on children within months or few years after the separation (Amato & Keith, 1991). However, there are numerous studies that the long-term effects of divorce on children are more important since it is associated with the development of a person (Kim, 2011). It is good to assume that the effects of divorce are more significant when the separation happens during their childhood. The effects on the childhood development could also be associated with the other social and psychological effects such as mental health, social skills, physical health and educational attainment (Bernardi & Radl, 2014).
The objective of this research paper is to analyse the long-term effects of divorce on the development of children up to the adulthood. The effects that are reported are based on the recent studies and its implication on the childhood development. To assess the childhood development, it is also better to evaluate the other social and psychological effects and its implication on the development of children.

The Reality and Phases of Divorce

Divorce is a reality of life regardless of religion, community and personal values. According to the latest studies, 2 out of 5 children could experience living with divorced parents before they reach the age of 18. It means the society is filled with family structures which have divorced parents (Kim, 2011). In the United States alone, there are about 1,250,000 cases of divorce each year. Divorce is relatively common to the society and its effect should be studied and understood thoroughly. Its effect on children could be shown in his or her physical and cognitive development. Long term effects are also more significant than the short term effects since it could be shown in adulthood (Bernardi & Radl, 2014).
Divorce is not as simple as it looks. It is not as simple as courtroom decision in which the parents agreed on the removal or cancellation of the contract of marriage. Divorce is a process which could be described in several stages or phases. The implication of divorce could be observed in the families even without the courtroom decision (Amato & Keith, 1991). In most cases, there are series of behaviour and conflicts that decrease the positive feelings of parents towards each other. The decision of parents in separation usually takes time and series of talks. During the process, there are several changes that occur within the family that could impact the development of the child. According to studies, there are six observable phases of divorce that could occur within the family (Bernardi & Radl, 2014).
The emotional divorce is concern about the deteriorating positive feelings between the couples. In this phase, these positive feelings such as love and affection are covered by the negative feelings such as anger and hatred. The emotional conflict usually disperses within the family which could cause emotional effects on children. The legal divorce is associated with the rules and regulations of divorce laws. In these phase, the legal documentation is involved in the process. The law usually recognize the couple’s incompatibility which results to divorce. The legal divorce is the common phase of separation of couples (Bernardi & Radl, 2014).
The most volatile phase of divorce is the economic divorce. It refers to the difficulty in the division of material goods after the legal divorce. The court usually mandates the division of the material goods since most of the couples are not agreeing on each other. The next emotional phase is the co-parental divorce which refers to the events of single parenthood and visitation. In this phase, the equal times between the parents are manifested in which the children are forced to adapt to the changes (Bernardi & Radl, 2014).
The next two phases of divorce involves the changes and adaptations that are experienced by children. The community divorces refer to the changes in the community and friends that the children experienced after the separation of parents. It involves those immediate effects of divorce on children which could also be observed in their future development. On the other hand, the psychic divorce refers to the adaptation of parents and children on living separately. The divorces are sometimes associated with the loss of identity of married couples as well as children. It is also one of the most important phases of divorce in the study of its effect on children (Bernardi & Radl, 2014).

Effects on Child Behaviour and Development

Family structure is very important in the development of the child especially in its behaviour. Usually, parents are the ones that control or influence the behaviour of the child. There are difficulties in maintaining and influencing good behaviour to the child if there are problems within the family such as emotional and divorce problems (Demo & Acock, 1988). The main effect of the divorce on the child behaviour is associated with the loss or lack of social support. Conflicts between couples usually end up also having difficulties in providing their children the social support they need. The emotional conflict of separation between parents also induced stress and emotional insecurity in the lives of the children. The emotional stress and the lack of social support are the main factors in the development of early depression on children (Kim, 2011).
In most of the recent studies, they concluded that there is a significant relation between parental divorce and poor behavioural outcome. According to the studies of Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing, children with divorced parents as early as 5 years old has more tendencies to possess aggressive behaviour. One major factor for this correlation is the timing of the parent’s separation (Amato & Keith, 1991). Children’s early development as well as in the adolescent stage are very susceptible for outside influence. In most cases, parents should have the full responsibility in their child regards to the changes in behaviour that a normal child experience. In general, parental divorce negatively influenced the behaviour and development of children (Kim, 2011).

Effects on Mental Abilities/Cognitive Performance

Usually, the mental effects of the parental divorce that happens on the childhood of an individual could also be observed in his or her adult life. According to the study of Fagan and Churchill (2012), children with divorced parents have lower mental capacity to handle conflicts. Parental modelling is one of the main factors for this correlation. Divorced couples have lower ability or capacity to handle the conflicts of the marriage and ended up not in agreement. Children could also influenced with the parent’s behaviour and rely on conflict and disagreement. Few people believe that some children may react differently and increase their efforts to ensure agreement with their conflicts. However, other factors played a role in the mental or cognitive performance of the child that could influence his or her capacity to handle conflicts (Demo & Acock, 1988).
The cognitive performance of the children with divorced parents could also be studied and analysed using the intelligence and the academic achievement test. Many studies found out that more students with divorced parents have lower academic grade or rate. In the analysis, they concluded that the cognitive performances could be inhibited or affected by the conflict and disruptions in homes (Bernardi & Radl, 2014). Emotional conflict between the parents greatly affects the emotional state of the children. It is common that children who are emotionally unstable could not greatly excel in their academic performance. The negative effect of the divorce to the cognitive and mental ability of the child could affect the development of the child (Demo & Acock, 1988).

Effects on Social Skills

Social skills could be characterized or define by several factors that could influence it. For example, people having poor social skills usually have fear of rejection from their peers. According to Gerald Patterson, a sociologist on Oregon Social Learning Centre, poor social skills are characterized by coercive social interaction which commonly results to the fear of rejection from peers (Demo & Acock, 1988). In recent studies, it shows that the fears of rejection from peers are larger in children with divorced parents than with children living with their both parents (Bernardi & Radl, 2014). Social skills are usually accompanied by social support from the family as well as social influence from the family identity which defines a family. Poor social skills of the children with divorced parents are also associated with the lack of attention from parents. In most cases, children are more likely to keep their own problems and try not to add more problems within their family (Amato & Keith, 1991).
In the study made in Kent State University, they concluded that children with divorced parents have lower rate about peer relations. These children also have lower hostility towards adults and aggression. The resiliency in others or the child’s antisocial behaviour could also be associated with the problems and conflict in their homes during the early phases of divorce. Some people believed that children with divorced parents usually avoid peer relations since they are shy to let others know that their parents are separated. In addition to the study, they also concluded that long periods of conflict before separation have greater effect on the social skills of the children. Poor social skills could lead to poor handling of problems and difficulty in having friends even in the adult life (Demo & Acock, 1988).

Effects on Physical Health

The emotional problems and the added stresses of the family problem are the main factors for the negative effects of divorce on the physical health of the child. Children with divorced parents are more likely to have physical health problems due to the lack of parental supervision and attention (Bernardi & Radl, 2014). The physical health problems could also be associated with the other effects of divorce of children such as emotional stress and poor social skills. According to the studies, children with divorced parents are more likely to have asthma, injury and headache which are the consequences of poor parental supervision. It may also be observable in the early stages of divorce in which emotional stress is spreading within the family (Jonsson, 2000).
The most common cause of physical health problems of the children with divorced parents are increased stress, insecurity and anxiety. These physical problems could lead to other developmental problems for children that could be inherited into their adulthood (Jonsson, 2000). The emotional stress experienced by the children could result to their loss of appetite and lead to their lack of nutrition. Sometimes, due to extreme lack of parental guidance, children of divorced parents have more tendencies into getting involved in deviant behaviours such as smoking, alcohol use and even using drugs. These behaviours could lead to more and severe physical health problems (Kim, 2011).

Effects on Educational Attainment

According to the research of Bernardi and Radl (2014), parental divorce is significantly related to lower possibility of the attainment of University degree. In their study, they concluded the relation for the children in most countries. Children with highly educated parents usually have higher probability of attaining a college degree. However, it could decrease if their parents are divorced (Amato & Keith, 1991). Children living with both parents have also higher tendency to graduate in a University. In most cases, children suffer from academic problems due to the family instability, conflict and other problems especially divorced parents (Jonsson, 2000).
The main factor for the lower probability of attaining a University degree for the children with divorced parents is the lack of supervision for their academic studies. Children with divorced parents have fewer tendencies to excel in the class due to the added stress and emotional problems. They often loss focus on their study trying to understand the events in their homes especially the emotional conflict with their parents. The lower probability of attaining college degree could also be associated with the children’s poor social skills, mental health problems and physical health problems (Jonsson, 2000).


Children with divorced parents have more tendencies to experience lack of parental supervision, guidance and attention. These tendencies could be the main factors for the negative effects of divorce to the development of the child. Children with divorced parents have more tendencies to have aggressive behaviour, poor social skills, poor physical health and lower tendency to attain a University degree. These negative effects are also associated with each other. Sometimes, the negative effects of divorce are also the main factor for the other negative effects. For example, poor physical health of the children with divorced parents is associated with the aggressive behaviour and poor social skills.
At some point, it is safe to say that children with divorced parents have a disadvantage in development. Parents should have the greatest influence in the development of the child and should provide proper guidance, attention and supervision. Divorce is bad for children since it has many negative effects on the mental and cognitive development of the children.


Amato, P., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and adult well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 43-58.
Bernardi, F., & Radl, J. (2014). The long-term consequences of parental divorce for children’s educational attainment. Demographic Research, 30(61), 1653-1680
Demo, D., & Acock, A. (1988). The impact of divorce on children. Journal of Marriage and the Family 50, 619-648
Jonsson, F. (2000). Parental Divorce: Long Term Effects on Mental Health, Family Relations and Adult Sexual Behaviour. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 41, 101-105
Kim, H. (2011). Consequences of Parental Divorce for Child Development. American Sociological Review, 76(3), 487-511

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