Different disciplines including social psychology, sociology, education, and family studies agree that family structures have a significant influence on children’s mental and physical health. The intact family is associated with the healthy development of a child, whereas divorce was found to harm children in their childhood and young adulthood. Although the divorce rate in the US is dropping, still 39% of marriages ultimately end in dissolution what is a significant social problem (McDowell). The process of family dissolution and conflict between the parents develop negative self-concept, difficulties in relationships with relatives, behavioral problems, and social issues in children.
The more intensified conflict is between parents, the bigger chance of a child developing depression. Haimi and Lerner revealed that “adults, who reported marital conflict between parents, expressed significantly more behavioral problems and depression, than adults, who grew up as children of parents whose relationships were good” (2). Another research identified that Afro-American children who experienced a stressful transition in childhood were more prone to depression at the age of 13 than their peers (Demir-Dagdas et al. 3). It means that parental divorce during the formative period of growth is inherent to the mid-term and long-term mental issues of children.
Parental involvement and co-parenting are essential for children to cope with distress. Higher paternal involvement in the life of school-age children contributes to better academic achievements, adaptability, attitude to school, and behavior. On the contrary, the low involvement of fathers was associated with the social and educational decline (Haimi and Lerner, 2). A range of studies investigating culturally diverse children confirms that “parental divorce is associated with anxiety, depression, subjective well-being, low self-esteem, and school problems” (4). These outcomes of divorce usually emerge and become evident if there is a negative father-child interaction in a time of conflict between parents.
To conclude, a high number of divorces is an enormous social issue that must be addressed by the government. The process of family dissolution, a conflict between parents, custody issues, and negative post-divorce relationships with relatives adversely influence the mental health of children. Among children living within divorced family structures, there is a higher likelihood of social and learning deterioration, violence, suicidal attempts, and depression. The high involvement of both parents in the life of their child helps them deal with distress and avoid health implications.
Demir-Dagdas, Tuba, et al. “Parental Divorce and Children from Diverse Backgrounds: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Mental Health, Parent-child Relationships, and Educational Experiences.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, vol. 59, no. 6, 2018, pp.469-485.
Haimi, Motti, and Aaron Lerner. “The Impact of Parental Separation and Divorce on the Health Status of Children, and the Ways to Improve it.” Journal of Clinical & Medical Genomics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, pp.1-7.
McDowell, Erin. “13 Surprising Facts about Divorce in the US.” Business Insider. 2020. Web.