Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children

Cite this


Globally, there have been a considerable proportion of separation and divorce cases. Mostly undesirable, divorce and separation usually signify a breakdown of a serious or significant partnership; hence are a major life stressor to all members of the affected family; notably the children. Researches show a particularly stronger correlation between children of divorced parents and their divorce in their future marriages (Amato & Paul, 1996). Certainly, there exist impacts, however negligible, on the physical, mental and emotional health of children of divorced parents. But what are the impacts of divorce on children’s development? And on the other hand, are those children who are affected by the separation of their parents able to cope up with the situation when compared to children from intact families? Are there any significant effects on divorcee’s children’s future marital life?

Cut 15% OFF your first order
We’ll deliver a custom Child Psychology paper tailored to your requirements with a good discount
Use discount
322 specialists online

These are pertinent questions that have been the subject of research and attention for several decades across the entire global community. There exists a range of serious and enduring behavioral and emotional problems on the future marital life of children who come from divorced families hence: children of separation are more probable to divorce in the course of their marital life in comparison to children from intact families. ( McLanahan & Sandefur ).

The impacts of divorce on the wellbeing of children have been a contentious issue that has been subjected to multiple discussions and academic research transcending several generations. Divorce has been an issue that has snowballed over many generations. Divorce has been in existence since antiquity with the earliest cases of divorce being predicted to have occurred in Mesopotamia. It is believed that, in Ancient Athens, divorce was liberally allowed though parties had to submit their request to magistrates for approval due to the perceived negative impacts and the lives of the divorcee’s children was of major concern to the Greek law authority, (Bracher, Santow & Watkins, pp. 5). In ancient Roman society, divorce was rare though it was allowed in cases in which the wife or the husband renounced the marriage.

Emotional effects of divorce on children

Some children are more affected emotionally by divorce than others. The things that parents don’t do and do will to the highest extent impact precisely on the impact the separation or the divorce has on the Child’s life. More so, the child’s age, gender, psychological health, and mellowness will also all affect how divorce affects a child emotionally. The most affected emotional area by divorce is self-image or self-esteem. The majority of the transition that happens is often a result of a variation in the manner in which a particular child can depict him or herself. They may think that they are the ones who enhance the separation of their parent to occur an aspect that would have been the cause of their parent’s wants to be away from them.

. Fears that both the parents will desert the children are so frequent, as are those that entail the consequences of the predicament of what ought to happen to them. On the other hand, the absence of either their dad or mum can make the children feel extremely without a friend in the world. A child who has had a security blow may lash out hysterically, or he or she may inaudibly turn inside themselves, and avoid public contacts at all. Lack of security is very devastating emotionally. Divorce is draining emotionally for everyone involved. This is particularly factual for children, who generally do not have any control over what is happening to them and around them. The loss of being in command of events, the mischief to their self-esteem, and the failure of security can aggravate a wide array of emotions, from unhappiness to anger, from depression to obsession.

Children may experience many emotional problems as a result of divorce, some of which may be completely new and consequently doubly stressful. First off, they may feel very insecure and afraid of the future. The numerous and often inevitable changes that go along with divorce can destabilize a child’s sagacity of security and make him/her very frightened of the future. They always tend to ask themselves the question, what next? Will we be underprivileged? Will we have a sufficient amount of food to eat? Will I have to look for a good school? Will I still be able to see my friends? In simple words, they will worry about all the things that are significant in their lives. They may also fear being abandoned by one of their parents. From a child’s point of view, the indescribable has occurred; a father or mother absent. The Children possibly will be profoundly troubled that the other parent is going to “vanish” too and leave them without help in the world.

On-Time Delivery!
Get your customised and 100% plagiarism-free paper done in as little as 3 hours
Let’s start
322 specialists online

The children may also feel that they have been rejected and despised by the parent who has walked away. This makes petite sense until we bear in mind that children identify themselves as the heart of the world. Therefore, in so doing everything that takes place must have something that touches on them. Therefore for the same reason, they may believe that the divorce took place because of their blunder, reason by something they had performed, or just because of the way they are, and feel both guilty and ashamed. Even intricate teenagers may be troubled that it is their behavior that contributed to the separation and made it unproblematic for a parent to leave.

Children feeling responsible for tribulations between their parents often tend to suppose they can also help bring them together again. They may change their behavior completely and be “better children”. More helpful and charming children think that they have the command to bring their parents back as one again. When this fails to happen or when their often convoluted plans and hopes for reunion flop; they may feel incapable and disconcerted that they cannot make a change. The most detrimental consequence of separation on the poignant ordeal brought about by the parents who exchange blows or demean each other in front of their children. The children feel expected to side with either of the parents but are unable to do this without being treacherous to the parent. They are ensnared in a no-win state of affairs where it is “incorrect” to love both parents.

Children of divorce may at times feel an enormous sense of loss and wretchedness, believing that the one parent has gone away perpetually and that they do not have a family anymore. They have the feeling that their lives are coming to an abrupt end. Their feelings epitomize those of children who have perpetually misplaced a close relative, to extreme situations. On the other hand, they are frequently taken too lightly or disregarded so that children of divorce do not get the same kind of support and this most often leads to depression if not well managed. In the course of the divorce, children may feel frazzled and feel obligated to handle more than they can pragmatically manage with at a time that is already distressing. For example, they may opt to take on extra chores at home or be overloaded with extra household tasks like it or not. The children may also be used as an advisor or confidante by the parents, a position that even teenagers are not eligible for or at ease with. Enthusiastic to lend a handout and seem “adult,” they may conceal how stressed out they are.

These children may feel very lonely. They may miss the closeness, calm, and meticulous parenting skills of the gone parent. The parent may perhaps be so absorbed up in their tribulations that they are not accessible to their children. Situations may have cut them off completely from their usual companions and this even worsens the affairs further. They may therefore seek understanding and reassurance elsewhere, or become completely withdrawn. Anger is also the very common poignant effect of divorce and it is caused by lack of acceptance or reception of the divorce, explicit events, and adjustments, emotions that the children are not prepared to manage or articulate.

Get a custom-written paper
For only $13.00 $11/page you can get a custom-written academic paper according to your instructions
Let us help you
322 specialists online

They do not always show their irritation. This is very common when divorce brings a marriage that didn’t have any form of conflict to an end because the motives for the divorce are not so palpable. Children show antipathy towards their parents for behaving in a way that in their view is unnecessary. Lastly, they may be heavily depressed though this is not a direct effect of divorce, a “second phase” sentiment following on from one or several emotions linked directly to the divorce. For example, wretchedness, solitude, feeling abandoned. Depression is therefore a sign that the children haven’t established the support they need to deal with these emotions.

Reduced family resources and assets

Divorce leads to a great decline in family resources. The resources may be greatly reduced if the divorcing parents decide to share what they have acquired during their years of marriage. The children normally dot get much from such arrangements and are left to use the little property taken by the parent in whose custody they are entrusted. The children in most cases feel the greatest pinch in the decline of the family recourses. Most household budgets drop up to an average of 28% to 42%. This results in a great reduction or drops in the living standards of the family which can result in antisocial behavior by the children.

Increased poverty levels

Divorce can lead to prolonged poverty spells especially in cases of single mothers whose income before the divorce was below the family median level. Such mothers may end up depending solely on social welfare support to take care of themselves and their kids. This can be the case especially if the kids are left in the custody of the parent with the least income. Poverty can also bite hard if the parent is not employed or engaged in a meaningful economic activity. The family may luck enough money to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and shelter. Divorced women and children four times the number of married women with children fall below the poverty line (Brian, 1993). Eighty percent of children who stay in married families are less likely to experience poverty compared to those in divorced families. Children of single mothers are also more likely to experience poverty.

Economic hardships

Divorce also results in economic hardships. A single parent may not be able to tackle all the relevant necessities of the family. The financial obligations will be overwhelming and some might be ignored. Children may suffer more if their needs are ignored or neglected. The children may also suffer stress due to the reduction in the family income. They may resort to social vices such as drug abuse and trafficking, stealing, and even prostitution. Children in divorced families are additionally probable to fall out of school. These may be due to the inability to meet school financial requirements. The children have a higher chance of having children out of wedlock and also cohabit. These may be a result of this kid being unable to receive appropriate or adequate financial support from their single parents.

Effects according to race

There is little research done on the ethnocultural effect of divorce. However, little research done shows that there is some variation on how divorce affects children across the racial divide. For instance, Asian kids are greatly affected by recent divorce than kids of other races. On the other hand, whites and black who were raised in broken families were easily depressed than members of other races. Divorce is also more likely to impair educational attainment in black males and whites equally. Black children are more likely to live in poverty conditions than their white colleagues this is due to the economic differences between the blacks and the white. There is a great disparity between black kids and white kids living in divorced families. Studies have also indicated that Hispanics are normally affected greatly than white and other non-Hispanics. Race alone however does not influence the effects of divorce on kids but rather it does so together with other factors.

Divorce poses a painful transition for the children. The children start living a life different from what they used to; they have to adapt to live without one parent and this often brings a lot of adjustment stress with it to an extent that the child might get emotionally and mentally disturbed. And even though efforts to reconcile the couples through family counseling, the children always suffer in one way or another.

A lot of sequence and reports have been directed towards the impacts that are associated with divorce on the lives of the children. The studies have been done by many scholars and all tend to point to similar effects. Most parents tend to think that divorce is an issue that only affects the two of them as parents; however, what remains to be the aftermath has various consequences that curtail the emotions of the children. This permanent and legalized separation of parents may be one of the factors as one partner has been unfaithful to the other, the other partner is a drug addict or they have just been fed up with another. Other factors may be disagreements that arise from minor domestic quarrels or problems arising from hearsays from the marriage confinement.

The first effect of divorce is that they develop a phobia for change in children. They learn that life is going to be very different and their previously secure world is in an unstable state of transformation. Many children have a concept that the divide of the folks is in a way, their fault.

They also develop a sense of aggression and defiance that some parents will think is normal behavior even when there are no marriage differences. The key is being aware of abnormal aggression in children. Thirdly, they become more depressed and withdrawn. Many children in a stressed family resolve pull out or illustrate signs of hopelessness. These can embrace solitary behavior, the early signs of eating disorders; eating a lot or hardly eat, they are often found discussing the threats of suicide and such other vices, they also contact with extended family on most occasions. In addition, their bedtime, mealtime, and after-school schedules may change. This is referred to as a state of upheaval.

Next, is the fear of abandonment? Whenever mothers and fathers are not in terms and are either separated or considering separation, it is a common observation that the majority of the children encounter the reel picture of the happenings that arise after a divorce has occurred. They find it very frightening to live alone especially at a tender age.

Lost connection. Children who are expressively fond of the parent are more often than not the main culprits who fall, the victim if the risk of divorce entails. This can be seen as a factor that can greatly contribute to the children losing hope in what they ought to attain in life. Suppose a child loses one parent who he or she was more affiliate to the situation that follows might be unforgiving in that the same child may develop a negative attitude towards the other parent, a factor that may lead to poor coordination hence rudeness.

If we would ask ourselves; how can the parents of any party concerned help to prevent children from this emotional turmoil? First, both parents must be involved since one parent could have very little or no encouragement to the children. All the parents have to take into account that the parents will remain to be their parents, will offer them parental love and care.

Lastly, separation parents must value one another. Instances in which the children will watch the parents in bitter quarrel should be avoided at all costs. In this essay, the various effects of divorce on children have been discussed in depth.

The likelihood of children from divorced parents abandoning their marriages has interested scholars since the early years of the twentieth century. (Wolfinger, pp.2) notes that, divorce rates took an exponential dive during the 1960s. He further reports that the period of 1965-1979 is generally known as the ‘divorce boom’ (Wolfinger, pp.2) period, owing to the relative numbers in divorce. History depicts that, those children who originate from separate families are more likely to attain a similar trend. It is estimated that, of the children born in the 1970s who experienced divorce in the course of their lives, a whopping 40% did experience breakup in their future marital life in comparison to the relatively smaller proportion of 11% of those born in the 1950s, (Wolfinger, pp.2). He however notes that there has been a general stabilization in divorce rates in the period proceeding 1979; an observation he attributes too; spouses marrying late and not rushing into unstable relationships.

Wolfinger, (2001) notes that Divorce is prevalent in all societies, though prevalence varies, between regions, social and economic classes, religious groups, and other clusters in society. Parental divorce inevitably disrupts the normal lives of children thereby interfering with their long and short – terms social and economic development. For example, “in America, an estimated 43% of all marriages end up in Divorce, with 8%, 19%, 32%, and 39% of the marriages ending within five, ten, twenty and thirty years of marriage respectively. It is further estimated that the 2008 divorce rate in the United States was estimated at 0.38% divorces per capita per year (Fox, Greer 1995:705) a very worrying statistic”. There are several children affected by divorce. It is estimated that in Australia for example, an estimated 50,000 children experience effects of family breakdown resulting from separation and divorce yearly, (Ausinet, pp. 2, A BS, pp. 3)In America, it is estimated that 750,000 children witness divorce of their parents every single year, (Lewin, pp. 1). (Marquardt estimates the figure at 1,000,000 (Marquardt, pp. 1).

Divorce affects the normal social, economic, and emotional wellbeing of children thereby interfering with their normal growth and development. As noted by (Funder & Kinsella, pp. 1)(OCECD, 1991) assert that comparing the lifetime educational levels of achievement, children who live with single mothers fail to reach the highest educational and occupational levels when compared to those from normal two-parent families. This reduction in individual levels of achievement may be attributed to a reduction in resources and parental guidance accessible to the child during his childhood and adolescence. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that failure in achievement may lead to a reduction in average income accrued by these children, more stress as they struggle to meet their normal economic needs thereby leading to a likelihood of divorce in their marriages.

A conclusive summary of the latter effects on the respective families of children from divorced homes was presented in a study by Wolfinger, (2001).” Wolfinger’s research was based on Survey that were obtained nationally from of the various households and families and had a sample of 13,000 people and involving a survey of over 20,000 persons in a period of 30 years”. The study estimates that there are double chances of divorce in marriages in which one of the partners comes from divorced parents. The study further suggests that spouses who are both children from divorced homes are three times more likely to divorce than those from intact homes. This statistics is also supported by Marquardt’s Study of the children of divorce (Gallagher, pp.1). The divorce cycle is attributed primarily to the negative lessons learned by children on inter-personal relationship skills ad marital commitments. On the secondary account, it may be attributable to the effects of parental divorce on the latter marriage structure of the offspring and educational and occupational attainment.

There are multiple problems and traumatic experiences associated with divorce. Many other works support the summary presented by Wolfinger. But is this enough reason to conclude that children who live through the experience of divorced parents are likely to suffer from divorce themselves? This has been a question of intense research and controversy. As noted by (McManus, pp. 1, JYI, pp. 1, Gallagher, pp. 1, Funder & Kinsella, pp. 1), children who grow up in a divorced family have greater chances of ending their marriages. This occurrence, they note, is referred to as either the separation cycle or the aging diffusion of separation. away from the amplified opportunity of divorce during their marriages; adults who are products of divorced homes are more likely to cohabitate and marry someone from divorced parents, are less likely to marry in adulthood, are more likely to marry as teens more likely to dissolve second and third marriages and more likely to marry their live-in partners, (Wolfinger pp. 2). Further arguments advanced by Wolfingrer indicate that children who have undergone divorce have a generally shortened average lifespan Furthermore, in most countries divorce cases; children tend to live with their mothers after the separation of their parents. Irrespective of the parent they live with (but most profoundly their mothers); there exists considerable financial loss further compounding their emotional, academic, and social development (Bracher, Santow & Watkins, pp. 5).

Children who emerge from homes that have experience separation are considered to marry earlier in many cases as young people. This is one rationale why they are further probable to get divorced since research shows that, the older one is when one gets married, the less likely one is to getting divorced in the course of his/her marital life. Divorce brings disruptions into the lives of children. Disruptions caused by divorce may lead to unfavorable conditions. For example, children from divorced families may end up living with stepparents.

This makes children live in uncertainty of what to expect in the course of their life due to the ambiguity attached to divorce as they wonder whether their parents will reunite, whether they will experience another divorce, whether the original divorce was their fault, or who to blame. Divorce results from conflict; hence children are subjected to varying levels of conflicts before parental divorce and separation. Wolfinger, reports that, in contrast to earlier beliefs, divorce transmission is more likely in cases in which parents dissolve their marriage in little or no conflict as opposed to high conflicting divorce causing marriages (Supported by, Tamar, pp. 1 and (Divorce, Reform pp. 1)

What leads to the high rates of divorce amongst persons who undergo divorce when growing up? Is it conflict that they are exposed to early in childhood? or socioeconomic difficulties they have undergone due to a deficit of one parent? or the neighborhoods within which divorcees children live? Explanatory causes are surely multifaceted. Although there exists no genetic link between divorced parents and the likelihood of their offspring’s divorce, divorce still begets divorce (Indiana University, pp. 1). This is due to multiple reasons such as father’s absence, mother’s absence, inequality due to distorted family structure, unfavorable pre-divorce experience in which children are subjected to, biased perception towards children of divorce from the context of the community, unfavorable economic conditions arising from reduced economic access due to parental separation, the parental conflict which affects offspring perception of marriage and poor role modeling from parents as they expose their children to their marital problems, (McLanahan & Sandefur, pp. 82).

Perhaps the greatest repercussion of the problem of divorce if not solved is the propagation of the divorce cycle. Suppose the divorce cycle model is a realistic prediction, then as more marriages are initiated, the global society will continue experiencing an increased number of divorce cases as the population swells. This is particularly a worrying representation since divorce has adverse effects on the lives of children. Imperatively, children who grow up from divorced families are more likely to suffer divorce later in their lives. This is attributable to patterns surrounding their marriages as defined from their experience (Duncan & Hoffman1998).


It is conclusively important to understand the effects of divorce in the marriages of those who live through such experiences. This is because nearly every individual marries at a certain point in their lives. The theoretical and controversial divorce cycle, a cascade in which the end of one marriage is technically the start of another, signifies the disastrous and grievous consequences for children of divorcee’s parents on their future marriages. Divorce not only affects offspring’s marital stability but also affects other important marital-related factors such as offspring; marriage timing, mate selection, chances of cohabitating, factors that are interrelated to and increase their chances of divorce during the marriage. Surely, from the overwhelming evidence supported by the theoretical modeling and statistics, divorce begets divorce.

Works Cited

Amato, Paul R. 1996 “Explaining the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 58, No. 3: 628-640.

Amato, Paul R. 2000. “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children.” Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 62, No. 4: 1269-1287.

Amato, P.R. “Children’s adjustment to divorce: Theories, hypotheses, and empirical support. “Journal of Marriage and the Family (1993).

Duncan, G., and Hoffman, S. What are the economic consequences of divorce? Demography (1988).

Fox, Greer. 1995. “Determinants of Child Custody Arrangements at Divorce” Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 57, No. 3: 693-708.

Furstenberg, Frank F. 2001. “Delayed Parental Divorce: How Much Do Children Benefit?” Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 63, No. 2: 446-457.

Furstenberg, Frank F. 1990. “Divorce and the American FamilyDivorce and the American Family.” Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 16: 379-403.

Gallagher, Maggie. Divorce Study Breaks New Ground, 2007.

Haltzman, Scott. Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife’s Heart Forever. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2005.

Indiana University. Divorce Begets Divorce-But not Genetically. News Release, 2007. Web.

JYI. Children of Divorced Parents Are More Likely to Themselves Divorce. The Journal of Young Investigators, 2007. Web.

McLanahan, Sara & Gary Sandefur. Growing Up with a Single Parent; What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Jalovaara, Marika. 2003. “The Joint Effects of Marriage Partners’ Socioeconomic Positions on the Risk of Divorce.” Demography, Vol. 40, No. 1: 67-81.

Meyer, D., and Garasky, S. “Custodial fathers: Myths, realities, and child support policy.” Journal of Marriage and the Family (1993).

Rogers, Stacy J. 2001 “Changes in Wives’ Income: Effects on Marital Happiness, Psychological Well-Being, and the Risk of Divorce” Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 63, No. 2: 458-472 Journal of Marriage and Family.

Wolfinger, H. Nicholas. Understanding the Divorce Cycle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 14). Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 14). Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children.

Work Cited

"Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children." PsychologyWriting, 14 Jan. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children'. 14 January.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children." January 14, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children." January 14, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Sociology. The Effects of Divorce on Children." January 14, 2022.