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Effects of Divorce on Children

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Since there is a lot discussion of the effects of divorce on children, I choose this to be my topic. In 1991 Amato and Keith (researchers) examined the results of 92 studies using 13,000 children ranging from preschool to young adults to determine what the overall results indicated. The overall result of this study was that children from divorced families are on "average" somewhat worse off than children who have lived in nuclear families. These children have more trouble in school, more behavior problems, more negative self-concepts, more problems with peers, and more trouble getting along with their parents.

Overall, the children are more alike than different. Amato tells us that average differences do not mean that all children in divorced families are worse off than all children in intact families. One way to examine this issue is illustrated by findings of Mavis Hetherington. Hetherington, like many others, finds these average differences, but she also looked at some of her measures and examined the degree to which children in divorced and intact families were more severely impaired.

Here we find some important differences. On a measure of behavioral problems, Hetherington reports that 90% of adolescent boys and girls in intact families were within the normal range on problems and 10% had serious problems that we would generally require some type of help. The percentages for divorced families were 74% of the boys and 66% of the girls in the normal range and 26% of the boys and 34% of the girls were in the negative scale.

The differences between children in different kinds of families are parental Loss, economic loss, more stress, poor parental adjustment, and exposure to interparental conflict.

All experts will agree that any life altering change is effective on a child's life. I personally do not see how anyone could argue that divorce is not life altering. Parents may try to make the child feel that things are the same, but for a young child especially it has to be near impossible to understand why mommy and daddy don't love each other anymore. This would be traumatic for anyone, young or old.



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