Divorce is the dissolution or termination of marriage and everything that pertains to it using the law or using acceptable customary law. It is a known fact that divorce is not a good thing as it affects so many people who are related to the divorcing couple like their children, parents, in-laws and the entire family. Divorce should be the last resort after other possible solutions have been explored and failed. It has been established that when parents decide to have a divorce, it is the children who suffer the consequences of the divorce. Statistics show that children from families of divorced parents perform poorly in school and do not relate well with their peers. Boys from divorced families tend to be more aggressive with their peers and do not relate very well with other people. Most of these children need psychological help because they have many psychological problems than children with both parents (National Center for Health Statistics, 2006).
Children from divorced homes have a higher risk of developing health problems than children from two parent families. These children are more likely to be victims of molestation and other form of abuse like murder or being beaten because of the mere fact that they come from single parent homes (National Center for Health Statistics, 2006). They also end up being lonely, anxious and insecure. Most of long term prisoners come from broken homes. Other than this, these children from broken homes are twice likely to attempt suicide than those from homes with both parents. They are also more likely to drop out of school and in fact they drop out of school more and engage in other social evils like drug abuse more easily than other children.
It is imperative to understand that the pillars of every family are the two parents. This is because they provide the physical needs like food, shelter and clothing to the children (Wallerstein, Lewis, & Blakeslee, 2001). They also provide emotional support for the children. Their children look up to them as role models. Children benefit a lot from frequent contact with their parents. When they lack the presence of their parents, the psychological damage done to them is irreparable.
Root (2010) assert that children who come from a family of divorced parents suffer emotionally, physically, psychologically and in many other ways like having difficulty in relating with other people. Half of children from divorced parents will witness the break up of their parents’ second marriage if their parents decide to marry again. They might even live through three or more of parental break up. A very high percentage of children in the world today are living without one of their parents and most of the children being born to married parents this year will have their parents divorced before they reach their 18th birthday (Wallerstein, Lewis, & Blakeslee, 2001).
Apart from the above, there are also economic losses to the children. This makes the children to undergo a lot of difficulties that would have been prevented. Strow & Strow (2006) assert that after a divorce, the parent having the custody of the kids, especially if it is the mother is left with the responsibility of taking care of the children. She may be earning a meager income that can sustain the family. This may force the children to adjust to a life that they were not used to before. They may lack some important resources or have to undergo change in lifestyle. Some may have to go to cheaper schools since the parent may not afford the kind of school they were attending before the divorce. They may be forced to move to a cheaper neighborhood. They may also have to contend with living in two homes.
Another impact is that these children undergo life stress .this makes them drop out of school more; they also have other problems like teenage pregnancy and abusing drugs at an early age. Divorce affect children psychologically in that child whose parents have psychological disturbance after a divorce make their children adjust poorly to the divorce. There’s need for parents to adjust well after a divorce to make their children less stressed (Strow & Strow, 2006). Most parents loose their parenting skills after a divorce and this contributes to some of the problems experienced by their children. Problems encountered in marriages before a divorce like domestic violence and conflict cause difficulty to children. Arguments and tension between parents may make children feel guilty, angry and alone. Trying to make the children take sides of one parent makes the children confused because they are in between adult conflict. Children should be left alone to make their own choices.
Children react differently to divorce depending on their age, gender and personality. The amount of support from their friends and family members also help them to cope with the stress. In very small children between 0-2yrs they may not really understand what’s going on (Root, 2010). But, the change in their parent’s energy levels and mood swings may affect them. They may have problems like stomach upset and loss of appetite.
For children between three to five years, they may feel guilty as they think they are the cause of their parents divorce. The fear of being abandoned may lead children in this age bracket to exhibit baby like behavior like wetting their beds. They may deny that anything has changed. They become angry, uncooperative and stressed. They become aggressive and disobedient. All these occur so that the elder member of the family can see and feel their need for security and love provided by their parents. In school going children they are able to understand what is going on. They know that their pain results from their parents’ separation and so their reaction is that of embarrassment, grief, anger, resentment, divided loyalty. They are not able to deal with their emotions. This affects them negatively in taking part in school activities and even when playing with other children. They live with the hope that their parents will get back together. They fell rejected by the parent who left and they often complain of stomachaches and headaches.
In teenagers the effect is more serious since they are at very sensitive age. First of all, they may feel afraid, angry, resentful, depressed and lonely.some teenagers are forced to take care of their families after their parents have left .they take up the adult roles of their families even before they are old enough to do so (Neuman & Romanowski, 2003). Due to the low energy levels of the parent, they are forced to take charge and be the leader in the family. Since this is a crucial age when most of them experience sexual changes in their bodies, they may become more confused since they are not able to cope with the sexual changes they are experiencing well by themselves without the guidance of their parent. At this age they can understand the cause of their parents divorce and this gives them the difficult task of choosing between the two parents or having to take sides. At this point they also have the fear of choosing a marriage partner since they are not sure if they can make a right choice. The fear that they have from their parents divorce is transferred to their own feelings making them have difficulty in relationships. When it comes to gender, it has been proven that boys who live with their fathers after a divorce do better than those who are raised by their mothers (Neuman & Romanowski, 2003). They become more stable emotionally and become less aggressive. On the other hand girls who are raised by their mothers become more responsible than those raised by their fathers.
The discourse above has revealed that children are the ones who are affected most after a divorce. This shows the importance of children being brought up with both their parents for them to be responsible and emotionally stable individuals. Divorce should be the last resort after searching for solutions to marital problems. All efforts should be made to reduce the divorce rates in the world to make the word a better place to live in.