Rechelle W. LaPrad
Liberty University PSYC 210-D07
Compared to forty years ago the divorce rate has increased at an alarming rate. Leaving the children torn and confused about their lives before and after. Children that where once seen as resilient are now seen as vulnerable. There is a vast amount of research that supports how children are affected before, during and after their parents’ divorce. Some of the issues that impact children can cause short-term psychological issues. Leaving those children that are affected to act out in various ways, from regressing backward in the developmental process to psychosocial well-being as it relates to academic performance. Long-term effects for children that result from divorce remain present throughout life. The adult child of divorce may carry unresolved issues into their own relationships. This behavior can put the adult child in high risk for divorce. With this understanding many schools and courts are beginning to offer ways to help children emotionally and socially through counseling and interventions.
The Impact of Divorce on Children
The research conducted on the divorce rate in the last decade has shown a steady climb. Daniel Pickar (2003), stated in an article from Sonoma county Medical Association, “Forty percent of all children growing up in America today will experience a parental divorce”. (Pickar 2003, p. 1) Most contributed the drastic increase to the court laws on what grounds a divorce can be obtained. The new laws set in place, changed from allowing divorce for only adultery and abandonment, to irreconcilable differences or more commonly known as “no-fault” divorce, meaning the couple is unable to work past their differences. “By 1985, every state allowed no-fault divorce; the shift in divorce law and passage of no-fault divorce legislation led some to argue that “silently and unconsciously, we created a culture of divorce” (Meltzer 2011, p 148; Wallerstein et al., p. 295). So, where does that leave the children, and how are the children of parental divorce affected?
To be able to explain how a child might be affected by a parental divorce is not an easy task. According to research conducted, the degree of impact on the family is related to how each parent reacts to the divorce. Two of the most potent factors that inﬂuence children’s post-divorce adjustment are exposure to inter-parental conﬂict and quality of parenting (Sandler, Miles, Cookston & Braver, 2008, p. 282; Amato & Keith, 1991; Kelly &Emery, 2003) There is considerable evidence that exposure to inter-parental conﬂict is associated with higher levels of mental health problems for children (Sandler et al., 2008, p. 282). Basically, when a parent or parents continues to react negatively to each other, or even worse put the children in the middle forcing them to choose sides, the greater the risk of psychological issue with the children involved. Some of the issues that children may experience are separation anxiety disorder, behavioral issues, decline academics in school age children, and long-term effects carrying over into adulthood.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
The term Separation Anxiety Disorder or (SAD) “is a clinical term that describes an extreme state of distress that’s experienced when a person is separated from someone they’re close to; like a mother or a father”. (Banschick 2013) This disorder seems to present in a number of divorces, because in most divorces one of the parents leave the family home to live in a separate home. This leaves most children to feel abandoned and even have a lessened sense of security. Majority of children, whether very young or in the adolescent age group still are unable to deal with this type of feeling. According Kiesling (2011): The extent to which divorce reduces a child’s confidence in who and where his or her attachment figures are; in his or her perceived acceptability in