Long Term Effects of Divorce on Children
Divorce will take a toll on the adults and children who are touched by the breakup of a marriage. Children are at most risk for suffering from long term effects of divorce because they don’t have the support and resources that are usually available to adults.
The divorce rate in the U.S. hovers around 50%. This means that 50% of marriages that are started this year will end in divorce at some point in the life of the spouses.
The changes in technological advancements, travel and cultural norms have hit the institution of marriage the hardest. In a 2005 European convention it was declared that out of every 10 households that were currently married 8 were divorced at one time. These rates are higher than those in the U.S.
The long term effects of divorce on children who don’t receive emotional and psychological support are varied from mental health issues, ability to bond with another person later in life, a decline in the ability to trust another person, failure of their own marriage and emotional instability.
Some of the long term effects suffered by children include bullying, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, lack of trust and respect, emotionally withdrawn and fear of abandonment. They also suffer from an inability to maintain long-term committed relationships themselves, a tendency to develop abusive behavior, prone to resorting to crime, tend to have a lack of respect for other people and lack of family values.
Many of these long-term effects are alleviated when the children of divorce are offered the support and resources to help them process the event in a developmentally appropriate manner.
In fact, in a 15 year longitudinal study researchers found that divorce wasn’t the acute crisis it was once thought to be. Instead the negative effects were a result of the post-divorce quality of life and the relationship of the child with their parents.
This means that those children who were able to live outside of poverty, with a parent who was willing to offer support and develop a strong relationship with the child was more likely to emerge from this crisis with little to no negative effects. But because the majority of women take a 40% cut in lifestyle after a divorce and are often the residential parent children will experience a change in the quality of their life.
In another study Wallerstein described an effect where up to 66% of the women who were interviewed post-divorce had a resurgence of anxiety, fear, guilt and anger that had been suppressed for many years. These feelings tended to resurface when the young adult was attempting to make their own major life decisions.
Children who are offered support and resources as they are going through a divorce have better initial outcomes and are more likely to seek counseling or support when they experience a resurgence of feelings at later points in their life.