Broken Homes, Broken Children
According to the Center for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics Report of 2002, 50% of first marriages ended in divorce and 60% of remarriages end in divorce. With these kinds of statistics, and with all the problems and pain a couple goes through, why do people still want to get married?
Even though marriage receives so much bad press these days, walking the aisle is still a very popular exercise. After all, it is human nature to want to feel nurtured and secure. Getting married is still very much desired for all its promise of unconditional love and companionship.
But marriage is so much more than just the wedding ceremony or the honeymoon. It is more than just the intimacy and fun that every couple deserves. Marriage is also about building a family. Traditionally, raising children is part and parcel of a marriage partnership — a task that entails the provision of shelter, clothing, education, and love without which no child can live without. Just as couples want to feel they belong to a loving relationship, so do their children. It also goes without saying that if a marriage is broken, the children would be emotionally affected by it together with their parents. The effects of divorce on children are important to any good parent. But it’s not always easy, when a marriage is struggling and someone is hurting, parents should also consider what the specific effects of divorce will be on their children.
There have been many specific studies focusing on the effects of divorce on children. Studies show that children from a broken family are emotionally affected by the marriage breakup and they know that nothing will ever be the same again. They fear change. Not just that the mother or their father will not be around, but they may also lost contact with their extended family, or school routines may change.
Children have a fear of being abandoned. When parents are at odds and are either separated or considering separation, children have a realistic fear that if they lose one parent, they may lose the other. The concept of being alone in the world is a very frightening thing for a child.
Children who have a natural attachment to their parents also fear losing other secure relationships such as those they have with their friends, pets, siblings, neighbors, and so on. Sometimes children are simply attached to their surroundings, and moving into new surroundings can cause an understandable negative reaction. Divorce has also been found to be associated with a higher incidence of depression; withdrawal from friends and family; aggressive, impulsive, or hyperactive behavior; and either withdrawing from participation in the classroom or becoming disruptive.
Academically, children are greatly affected because of their parents divorce or separation. Children from divorced families drop out of school at twice the rate compared with children from “intact” families. They also have lower rates of graduation from high school and college. Children from divorced homes performed more poorly in reading, spelling and math.
Moreover, children of divorced parents are more likely to become delinquent by age 15, regardless of when the divorce took place. Anecdotal evidence points out that parental divorce and living in a single-parent household can influence a person to have thoughts of committing suicide. Drug use in children is lowest among those children who have been spared from the effects of parental divorce.
Even if there are have been tension and problems at home, some children will be shocked to learn that their parents are getting a divorce. It may take some time for them to acknowledge and accept that their lives will be different. To help a child cope with shock and stress, parents should be patient with them, ease into the new routines and living situations if possible and constantly express and reassure their love to them. Based on research, these are the top five reasons why people get married:
1. To signify a life-long commitment
2. To make a public commitment
3. To legalize their partnership or for financial security
4. To formalize their partnership as part of religious belief
5. To provide security for children.
But long after the celebration of the wedding and years after the honeymoon, when reality sets in, many marriages fail to survive. Despite all the happiness and joy that was shared between the man and the woman during the early years of marriage, they end up separated or divorced — placing their children’s security, health, and well-being at serious risk.