Every day thousands of couples officially register their relationships by getting married. People are eager to create family units, give birth to children, and live happily for years. However, a phenomenon of divorce becomes as common as marriage in modern society. There are many assumptions regarding this tendency, one of which concerns the rising involvement of women in labor. Regardless of the causes leading to divorce, children remain the most vulnerable party in this process, so it is necessary to explore the consequences of parental separation along with its subsequent impact on children.
The Main Causes of Divorce
There are many different reasons that cause disturbances in marital relationships, which sometimes may result in divorce. The initial stage of any wedlock is usually associated with romance. However, each couple passes through a number of challenging events that make spouses either closer or distant. Previously, heterosexual marriages prevailed in society, so male and female roles were explicitly pre-assigned in each family.
While men were responsible for ensuring financial support, women were taking care of children and the household. Currently, women are more independent than before because they have obtained opportunities for official employment and decent salary rates. Among industrialized countries, “the highest divorce rate is in the US, where about half of the first marriages end in divorce and more than a million children experience their parents’ divorce each year” (Haimi & Lerner, 2016, p. 1). This means that children in the US are very vulnerable because they face many challenges when their mothers and fathers get separated.
How Children Perceive Separation
Previously, research studies were focusing on divorce from the adult perspective without taking children’s points of view into consideration. Recently, the results of empirical research have revealed that children dislike separation from parents but have an immense desire for them to reconcile (Brand, Howcroft, & Hoelson, 2017). Such attitudes towards divorce imply that children are not ready for such major changes in their lives, where any alterations conceal many uncertainties and challenges. Furthermore, some spouses tend to live together with another partner, which imposes greater stress on the offspring.
Children also report that “there are practical difficulties and implications of residing in two different homes” (Brand et al., 2017, p. 171). This is common when parents agree to take care of their children equally. Otherwise, the lack of parental attention causes discomfort in children and may lead to the emergence of various disturbances.
The Impact of Divorce on Children’s Wellbeing
It is well-known that divorce negatively impacts children because living in a one-parent family is associated with multiple social and economic obstacles. Furthermore, it also affects the mental state of children, causing impairments in social adaptation, behavioral problems, depression, violence, and even a high risk of suicidal attempts (Haimi & Lerner, 2016). In a two-parent family, children can clearly observe the distribution of social roles and typical sexual behaviors.
As a rule, families are holistic units and primary educators to the offspring that ensure deeper understanding and provide insights into social life. When parents get separated, their children are deprived of such an opportunity. Furthermore, a lack of parental control is characterized by increased violence in boys. The researchers identify that “boys need positive identification with their fathers in order to control their behavior” (Haimi & Lerner, 2016, p. 2).
The economic determinant is another factor that influences children’s wellbeing in one-parent families. Obviously, the cooperation of two spouses results in a stable financial background of the family, while a single parent may struggle with various household, personal, and child expenses, which often leads to searching for additional income.
Insufficient parental involvement in children’s lives also affects academic performance and behavioral traits of the latter. Family dissolution impacts children’s schooling because it reduces resources available for education (Kreidl, Stipkova, & Hubatkova, 2017). When children are left on their own, while single parents are struggling with the additional workload, they tend to face both educational and personal obstacles. Meanwhile, high parental involvement in school results in “better academic functioning, higher scores, fewer absences, and positive attitudes towards school” (Haimi & Lerner, 2016, p. 2).
Even though parents get separated, paying enough attention to the offspring creates a sense of commitment and cooperation. That way, children can also establish and support stronger bonds with each of the parents and are less likely to suffer from depression. Even when a single parent does not have enough resources for granting premium quality education for the offspring, attention and care create a sense of belonging that assures confidence for children and promotes their emotional stability.
An increasing percentage of divorces in the US imposes a burden on a greater number of children in the country. Depending on the family culture, spouses either decide to separate peacefully or not. While some parents continue taking care of their children equally even after divorce, children still experience stress because of residing in two different houses. In a one-parent family, social and economic obstacles are common, usually influencing children’s behavior, social adaptation, and academic success. That is why parents need to take full responsibility for their children and guarantee future success for them.
Brand, C., Howcroft, G., & Hoelson, C. N. (2017). The voice of the child in parental divorce: Implications for clinical practice and mental health practitioners. Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 29(2), 169-178.
Haimi, M., & Lerner, A. (2016). The impact of parental separation and divorce on the health status of children, and the ways to improve it. Journal of Clinical & Medical Genomics, 4(1), 1-7.
Kreidl, M., Stipkova, M., & Hubatkova, M. (2017). Parental separation and children’s education in a comparative perspective: Does the burden disappear when separation is more common? Demographic Research, 36(3), 73-110.