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Family Values: the Effects of Divorce on Children

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Divorce is one of the biggest issues in modern society and effects the lives of countless children around the world. The true tragedy is not the divorce itself, but what succeeds it. Children of divorced parents find themselves in an unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances. These children are affected by divorce that contribute to a big part of their lives. The biggest effects of divorce on children is developing depression, a harder time in school, and the lack of ability to create and maintain a romantic relationship.

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During a divorce, children often fall victim to developing depression. According to Hammen et al., “[s]tressful life events are strongly correlated with depressive symptoms” and divorce for a child can be one of the most stressful events of their life  Shafter et al. decided to run an experiment to see how divorce effected emerging adults from stepfamilies. They used a sample size of 1593 emerging adults to determine the depression score, “[p]er standardized scoring instructions for the scale, all items were summed to produce a continuous measure ranging from 0 to 60. CES-D scores of 16 or higher are considered clinically significant”. However, the mean score of 22 shows that on average, a child who went through a divorce, shows signs of depression that is much greater than the average person. Therefore, the conclusion of this experiment was that “[they] found that divorce stress is positively associated with depressive symptoms in emerging adults”.

School is stressful enough for children, let alone going through it during and after a divorce. An experiment was put together by Nele Havermans et al. to show just how much a divorce affects children during and after a divorce. The results of the experiment showed that “[c]hildren with a good relationship with their mother and father, also reported on average high scores on school engagement” and that, “[c]hildren in shared residence with a stepparent combine two stressful factors in their living arrangements” leading to a more difficult time in school. An experiment run by Febrazio Bernardi and Jonas Radl find the same conclusion in which “a reduction in economic resources following a breakup, changes in parental time and in parenting practices, an increase in parenting stress, and a child’s emotional crisis linked to parental separation” all leads to the child’s poor performance in school. The experiment performed by Havermans et al. also went on to prove that many children who were in a divorced household often did not attend college and if they were to do so, they dropped out of the college they were attending.

Many children who grew up in a stepfamily often are unable to commit to a serious romantic relationship. A study run by Sun-A Lee aimed to prove that the relationships of children who were involved in a divorce were more likely to have issues committing in a romantic relationship. Lee was surprised to find that “children from divorced families are more likely to hold negative and lower expectation toward [a] committed relationship … and [hold more] favorable attitudes toward divorce than those from always-married families”.

Divorce plays a big part of a child’s life and often leads to a life where more could have been accomplished had the parents of the child decided to attempt to fix their marriage rather than take the easy way out. Parents who are considering a divorce who have a child should consider that the divorce will not only affect them, but also their child, and will do so for the rest of their life.

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