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Chapmon 1

Madison Chapmon
Instructor: Malcolm Campbell
English 1103
March 30, 2015

Divorce: Are They Really All Bad?

Divorces have been taking place within families for decades and decades now, but
has anyone ever truly thought in depth about the effects that they have or could have on
children? Divorce is defined as the ending or an instance of legally dissolving marriage.
This sounds pretty bad when you read the legitimate definition of it, but could it be
possible for divorce to bring stability to the lives of the children suffering in unhappy or
unstable homes, or does it always have to be associated with negative affects regarding
the children? We are always seeing statistics on the Internet regarding divorce rates and
whether theyre up or down this year, but rarely are we seeing statistics talking about the
effects they can bring to the children, whether they are good or bad.
Although there are many negative effects that divorces can bring to families, I do
believe that it is possible for divorce to bring stability to the lives of some children as
well. Depending on the situation, divorce can be good for a family all together or it may
be bad. For example, if the parents of a child are constantly fighting at home and not
getting along, a divorce could probably bring stability to the life of that child. Sometimes
divorces are neutral between couples and may not bring fighting and anger. Often times
the parents remain friends after a divorce and can still get along, which would be good

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for the sake of their children. I believe that it is important for the parents to consider their
children when dealing with a divorce. When the situation is handled maturely and
rationally, the child wouldnt be exposed to all of the negativity, which would be less
likely to cause them unhappiness.
Divorce can indeed have a negative outcome on the lives of the children.
Children of divorce households are worse off than children of intact household, writes
Stevenson and Wolfers from the American Economic Association. A study was done by
the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), which showed
how some children feel when dealing with divorcing parents.
While parents may be devastated or relieved by the divorce, children are
invariably frightened and confused by the threat to their security. Some parents feel so
hurt or overwhelmed by the divorce that they may turn to the child for comfort or
direction. This can add to the pressure and stress a child is experiencing. Divorce can be
misinterpreted by children unless parents tell them what is happening, how they are
involved and not involved, and what will happen to them(Children and Divorce).
Often times it is hard for parents to talk to their children about divorce, which can lead to
confusion. Researchers say that sometimes when a parent is suffering from depression,
their children may begin to suffer from depression also. The parents emotions have a
strong impact on their childs emotions. The AACAP gives tips on how to help both the
children and the parents with the challenges and stress that divorce brings them:

Do not keep it a secret or wait until the last minute


Tell your child together with your spouse if possible
Tell your child that the divorce is not their fault
Admit that it may be upsetting for everyone at first
Reassure your child that you both still love them

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Sarah Harris, from the Herald Sun, took a poll asking children of divorced parents
how theyve suffered from the divorce and dealt with it. She believes that parents dont
always notice the effects that their divorces can bring on their children. Sometimes
theyre too busy wrapped up in their own feelings and problems to notice what their
children are actually going through.
Many parents fail to notice that their children are turning to drink and drugs, or
even considering suicide, the poll found. Some were insensitive enough to break the news
of the divorce to their children by text. Oneintwentyhadturnedtoalcoholandonein
ninehaddeliberatelywoundedthemselves.Afurthersixpercenthadconsideredsuicide,
whiletwoofthosepolledhadtriedtokillthemselves (Harris, Herald Sun). At the end
of this article, Harris wrote, While divorce may be the best thing for many families, we
have to ensure children are helped to understand the split isn't their fault and that they are
still loved."
Some children feel like they are stuck in the middle between their parents as if
they have to choose between the two of them. Others felt as if they were responsible to
look after their mothers and fathers after their relationships fell apart. This shouldnt be
the case. In order to reduce the negative outcomes from divorce, for the sake of the
children, the children need to be assured that nothing has changed or is going to change
between them and their parents. Parents need to take control and handle their divorce
maturely and make their children feel just as loved as they were the day before, as they
should be.
There are many factors that determine how families are affected by divorce.
Research was done regarding divorce and children, and according to Purdue University,

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Children have different types of reactions. Some reactions will be negative and others
will be positive. Their reactions depend on many different things(Karuppaswamy,
Purdue.edu). Some of the determining factors mentioned are:

Level of conflict between parents


How parents adjust to divorce
Information children are given about the divorce
Age and developmental level of children
Level of social support
Childrens gender
Childrens ability to cope with stress

These factors play a huge role on the effects on children. When there is a lot of conflict
between the parents, this can lead to criticism of one another as well as arguments over
custody. These experiences can be hard for the child and they may also make it difficult
for the child to adjust to the divorce. If the parents adjust well to divorce, the child is
more likely to adjust well also. Informing the child about the divorce can make it easier
as well. If a child is uninformed on the divorce they may make things up about it or get
the wrong idea. For instance, the child may think that his or her parents are just in a little
fight and tell his or her friends that everything is going to be okay, when little does that
child know that his or her parents are actually getting divorced. It is important to let the
child know what is going on. The researchers from Purdue University do not believe that
divorce always causes pain because people react and adjust in many different ways due to
the situation that is taking place.
There are many ways in which a divorce can be beneficial to children. Here are
some of the positive outcomes divorces can bring:

When mommy and Daddy our Happier as individuals, their kids will be too.
When the tension dissolves out of the house, kids will be more relaxed.

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When you model that you deserve to be in a satisfying and supportive

relationship, you model something wonderful to your kids.


With shared custody, kids have the opportunity to experience each parent as a full
and competent parent.

Interestingly enough, a third of all the divorce filings from 2011 contained the word
Facebook in them. These divorces are said to have been caused by some type of social
media infidelity between one parent and another person. This type of situation is one that
would be more likely to bring negative effects to the children. Situations in which a
parent is involved with someone other than his or her spouse is a situation that is more
likely to cause harmful effects on the family. If a parent isnt happy, the child most likely
wont be happy, so divorce can bring both stability and/or instability to families.
Patrick Fagan and Robert Rector from The Heritage Foundation believe that in
order to make an effort to reduce divorce rates as well as the negative effects they come
with, the federal government should:

Establish, by resolution, a national goal of reducing divorce among

families with children by one-third over the next decade.


Establish pro-marriage demonstration programs by diverting sufficient
funds from existing federal social programs into programs that provide

training in marriage skills.


Mandate that surplus welfare funds be used to strengthen marriages

and slow the increase in Family disintegration.


Rebuild the federal-state system for gathering statistics on marriage
and divorce, which ended in 1993. Without such data, the nation cannot
assess the true impact of divorce on the Family, the schools, the
community, and the taxpayer.

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Create a public health campaign to inform Americans of the risks


associated with divorce and of the long-term benefits of marriage.

State laws also play a key role in divorce considering that they govern marriage. It is
important for them to establish a goal to reduce the negative effects of divorce over the
next decade and stick to that goal.
Sometimes a divorce is unexpected and tragic for a family. However, although
some people may not realize it, some families today are in need of divorce. Divorce is not
necessarily always a bad thing. Divorce is the end of a marriage, not the end of the
family. Successful co-parenting is the greatest gift you can give your child. Many parents
stay married too long for the children but then when the marriage ultimately cracks,
they end up creating so much negativity towards their former spouse that the childs
perception of marriage can be permanently altered (Gorman, Florida Accounting
Litigation Services).
In order to make your children happy, you must find happiness for yourself first.
Staying together for the children could end up doing more harm for the children than
good, in certain scenarios. One of my friends that Ive grown up with, Seth Anderson has
parents who rarely ever speak to each other, yet they still live under the same roof. He
said that when they do talk, which is not often, its them arguing over money. They
would get a divorce, but my dad said its too expensive(Anderson). Seth has mentioned
to me several times that hes scared hes going to be like his dad in the future; hes
worried that hell end up being unhappy with his wife and set a bad example for his
children as well. Seth believes that his parents dont love each other anymore; theyre
just staying together due to money. In this situation, I think a divorce is necessary to

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bring stability to Seths family. What kind of example are his parents setting for him and
his siblings? Studies show that children living in unstable homes while growing up are
more likely to be apart of an unstable home later in life. I dont want this for Seth.
Parents need to consider the effects that their behavior can have on their children in the
present, as well as the future.
As mentioned earlier, Gordon Berlin from MDRC also says children who grow
up in an intact, two-parent family with both biological parents present do better on a wide
range of outcomes than children who grow up in a single-parent family. Single
parenthood is said to be one of the contributing causes to higher rates of school dropouts,
teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, or other negative outcomes, but it does not
contribute independently to these problems. Divorced parents or single parenting does
not guarantee that a child will not be successful later in his or her life, in fact, most of
them do end up being successful later on. Even though all of these negative outcomes are
possible outcomes of divorce, there is help that the families can get in order to prevent
these problems.
An emerging body of evidence suggests that marital education, family counseling,
and related services can improve the couples communication skills, problem-solving
skills, as well as improving their relationship overall. Encouraging and supporting
healthy marriages is a cornerstone of the Bush Administration's proposed policies for
addressing the poverty-related woes of single-parent households and, importantly, for
improving the well-being of low-income children (Berlin, MDRC). Close to a third of
the children born in the United States each year are born out of wedlock, meaning that
their parents were not married when they were born. It is also said that about half of all

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first marriages end in divorce, which often times results in the single-parent households
being poor. So to sum it all up, Gordon Berlin writes, equalizing income and opportunity
do improve the life outcomes of children growing up in single-parent households, but
children raised in two-parent families still have an advantage (MDRC).
In a casual discussion on divorce today, most people feel sympathetic for the
families going through with it, not knowing that it could possibly bring that family
happiness. Little do they know that the divorce may have brought more stability to that
family than ever before. Sure going through a divorce may be hard at first, but its a
process and it takes time to adjust to. According to Judith Wallerstein, only 40% of
children marry after having divorced parents. She has been studying divorces for years
now and Wallerstein has come to conclusion that there are ways to make this adjustment
easier on the children, as well as their parent. Quality post-divorce life is crucial for
children and parents after going through a divorce. As mentioned earlier, the way in
which the parents react to their divorce is likely to affect the way their children will react
as well.
Divorce is usually upsetting for a child to hear at first, but handling the situation
properly makes it easier for both the children and the parents. Its not the divorce itself
that brings negative effects, but more the exposure to their parents strife which often
causes the childs future relationships to be more likely to suffer. If a divorce is what is
right for the family, the child as well as the parents will come to realize that and stability
will take its place in their life. Contrary to popular belief, divorce is not always a bad
thing. In some situations it is proven to be whats best for the family.

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Works Cited
Berlin, Gordon. "The Effects of Marriage and Divorce on Families and Children."
MDRC. 4 May 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

"Children and Divorce." AACAP.org. American Academy of Child and Adolescent


Psychiatry, 4 Dec. 2013. Web.8 Mar. 2015.

Desai, Amy. "How Could Divorce Affect My Kids?" Focus on the Family. 18 Apr.

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2006. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Fagan, Patrick, and Robert Rector. "The Effects of Divorce on America." The Heritage
Foundation. 5 June 2000. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.

Gorman, Jonathan. "Divorce and Children." Florida Accounting Litigation Services. Web.
14 Apr. 2015

Harris, Sarah. "The True Impact of Divorce on Children." Herald Sun 30 Dec. 2013.
Web. March 1. 2015.

Karuppaswamy, Nithyakala. "The Effect of Divorce on Children: What Makes a


Difference?" Purdue.edu. 2006. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

Stevenson, Betsey, and Justin Wolfers. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and Their
Driving Forces. American Economic Association. 21.2 (2007): 27-52. Web.
23

Feb. 2015.

Wallerstein, J., and J. Kelly. 1980. Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents
Cope with Divorce. New York: Basic Books.1980. Print. Feb 27. 2015.