Several stressors are usually associated with single-parent households. For example, one can mention financial difficulties, domestic violence, or child abuse. This paper will discuss such stressors as divorce and its impact on family and public health, in general. In particular, it is necessary to identify the risks to which children of divorced parents can be exposed. Moreover, this paper will show how the findings of resilience research can be used to help such familiars.
Divorce is often regarded as a very traumatic experience for children. Under such circumstances, they may be overwhelmed by an unjustified feeling of guilt, shame, and a sense of helplessness (Jolivet, 2011, p. 176). They may even regard themselves as the underlying cause of parental conflict and eventual divorce. These experiences can give rise to many long-term problems such as chronic depression or inferiority complex (Jolivet, 2011, p. 177).
Therefore, it is possible to assume that divorce can be related to overall public health because it increases people who have psychological problems and sometimes even mental disorders. According to Rachel Haine et al, each year approximately 1,5 million children experience parental divorce, and more than 20 percent of these children face life adjustment difficulties or exhibit mental health problems (2003, p. 397). Moreover, 41 percent of these people seek mental health services between 18 and 22 (Haines, 2011, p. 397). Therefore, this statistical evidence suggests that divorce can pose a serious threat to a person and public health.
However, the findings of resilience research should not be disregarded, and they can be of some use for promoting the well-being of single-parent households. Scholars believe that several resilience factors can contribute to the overall wellbeing of the child. Among them, one can single out: 1) good relations with a custodian parent, normally mother; 2) effective discipline within the family; 3) ability to see a non-custodial parent, and 4) ability to interact with peers (Wolchik, Schenck & Sandler, 2009, p. 1842). Furthermore, one should not forget that very often many children of divorced parents can achieve their career goals and become good parents (Kelly and Emery, 2003, p. 357).
This argument is supported by Robert Gordon (2005, p. 450) who believes that divorce can be better than living in a family in which parents are continuously quarreling with one another. There are several ways in which these findings can be used to support families. For instance, counselors should teach parents to stress management techniques so that their children were not exposed to possible fits of anger or any other emotional outbursts. Secondly, legal professionals have to make sure that a child can see a non-custodial parent. Certainly, they cannot always do it, especially when a non-custodial parent can pose a danger to a child.
However, the interaction with a non-custodial parent can be very beneficial for a child. Thirdly, counselors and educators should help parents find a better approach to their children. Again, as it has been said before, quality relations with a parent is a key success factor that can enable a child or an adolescent to avoid potential risks associated with divorce.
Overall, divorce may pose a threat to the mental health of a person, but certain resilience resources can reduce potential risks. Counselors, therapists, and educators should remember these reliance resources to assist single-parent families and improve public health.
Gordon, R. M. (2005). The doom and gloom of divorce research. Comment on Wallerstein and Lewis (2004). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 22(3), 450-451.
Haine, R. A., Sandler, I. N., Woichik, S. A., Tein, J., & Dawson-McClure, S. R. (2003). Changing the Legacy of Divorce: Evidence From Prevention Programs and Future Directions. Family Relations, 52(4), 397-405.
Jolivet, K. (2011). The Psychological Impact of Divorce on Children: What is a Family Lawyer to Do?. American Journal Of Family Law, 25(4), 175-183.
Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children’s Adjustment Following Divorce: Risk and Resilience Perspectives. Family Relations, 52(4), 352-362.
Wolchik, S. A., Schenck, C. E., & Sandler, I. N. (2009). Promoting Resilience in Youth From Divorced Families: Lessons Learned From Experimental Trials of the New Beginnings Program. Journal Of Personality, 77(6), 1833-1868.