The social competence, and emotional and behavioral adjustment”
The Effect of Divorce on Children According to Berk (2008), 45% of American marriages end in divorce and half of those involve children. The effect divorce has on children is critical knowledge that people need to understand to be able to help these children overcome the behavioral, emotional, and social problems that they acquire during this time. There are four studies in particular that I have found that have quite fascinating results.
The first article that I discovered was from Andreas Schick’s study (2002) in which he found ways that children show behavioral and emotional differences depending on if they came from a divorced or intact family. There have been previous studies regarding the effects that divorce has on children from a parent or teacher perspective but never from the child himself. From recognizing this, the researcher decided to focus on the child’s perspective in his own study.Schick (2002) evaluated several factors such as fearfulness, self esteem, behavior issues, gender, amount of time since the divorce and inter-parental conflict by comparing children from intact families versus children with divorced parents. His sample consisted of 241 9 to 13 year old children and their parents with 66 of those kids from separated or divorced homes and 175 kids from intact homes. At the time of the separation or divorce, the children were on average about 7. years old.
Most of the data that he found came from the children’s perspective besides the data on behavioral problems which were received from the parents. To conduct this study, he gave questionnaires to both the children and parents and used several different scales and checklists to gather the data. From his research he found several things such as the kids of divorce were not more fearful than kids who hadn’t experienced a divorce.In comparison to children from intact families, children of divorce, “were less consistent in their academic performance, more often socially withdrawn, and exhibited more delinquent behavior” (Schick, 2002, p. 9).
With further evaluation, he discovered that the amount of children with these “clinically relevant problems didn’t depend on the length of time that had elapsed since separation” (Schick, 2002, p. 9). Regarding interparental conflict, he found that emotional factors that affect these children are a onsequence of the lack of social support from the father and the child’s thoughts of the damage from interparental conflicts. Schick’s findings correlate with the text because the text states that “children and adolescents of divorced parents continue to score slightly lower than children of continuously married parents in academic achievement, self-esteem, social competence, and emotional and behavioral adjustment” (Berk, 2008, p. 511). In contrast to Schick’s work (2002), Lansford et al.
(2006) decided to look at how timing plays a role in a child’s adjustment during and after a divorce occurs.This study aimed their focus on getting participants that were entering kindergarten and they ended up with 356 children. 97 of those children experienced at least one divorce during the course of this study (Lansford et al, 2006). To control the demographic variables, they matched each child in the divorced group with a child in the nondivorced group depending on gender, race and SES. Interviews were conducted with the mothers prior to the beginning of the school year and each year after to determine the marital status of each family.The teachers of the students were given checklists that were based on each participant’s behavior in the classroom.
They also had the mothers fill out the checklist as well and obtained the individual’s grades each year. Lansford et al. (2006) found that based on the following outcomes: mother-reported internalizing problems, teacher-reported externalizing problems and academic grades, significant findings related to early divorced groups versus the nondivorced groups showed that all the outcomes expect grades were significant between the two.
In contrast, results found that between the late divorce group and the nondivorced group, only the grades were significant. This shows that that “divorce during elementary school is related to more adverse effects on internalizing and externalizing problems than is later divorce, whereas later divorce is related to more adverse effects on grades” (Lansford et al. , 2006, p. 296). The study mentioned that there wasn’t any noteworthy data related to a child’s gender but the text had mentioned that, “many boys enter the period of turmoil surrounding divorce with reduced capacity to cope with family stress” (Berk, 2008, p. 11). By conducting their study based upon timing, they were able to see the behaviors and grades of the child before the marital change occurred and the effects it had on these variables years after the divorce took place which allowed them to put things into perspective compared to other studies that have been done in the past.
Pruett, Williams, Insabella, and Little (2003) conducted a study examining how young children are affected by the divorce process along with the emotional and behavioral aspects that come all with it.These researchers were expecting to find that parental conflict would influence negativity in parent-child relationships, stricter gate keeping, and less father involvement. The participants for this study were chosen at the beginning of their legal proceedings with the criteria that they had to have children under the age of 6. 161 families were selected with the mothers being the primary residential parent. Unlike the previous studies, this study just focused on the parent’s response which is partly due to the young age of the children that were chosen.Questionnaires were given to the parents that asked about custody arrangements, parent involvement and parent-child relationships.
Results showed that parental conflict was indirectly related to the child’s adjustment through parental involvement, the parent-child relationship, and attorney involvement (Pruett et al. , 2003). From collecting this data, they found that fathers reported a more negative change with their children than did the mothers whose children resided with them. As children aged, they saw that children were more involved with their fathers and their behavior skills increased.
This coincides with the text since it states that, “the more parental contact and the warmer the father-child relationship, the less children react with defiance and aggression” (Berk, 2008, p. 511). Also, with an increased incidence in parental conflict, there was less involvement from the nonresidential father. Pruett et al. (2003) discovered that, “parent distress and vulnerability may lead to diminished parenting capabilities, which in turn is associated with poorer child outcomes” (p. 77). Surprisingly, it was found that mothers were less likely to hire a lawyer with the more psychological issues that they had which predicted greater internal problems in their children.
The authors suggest that this study can help to show the importance of beginning interventions during the legal proceedings, to help children cope with this devastating time in their life, which will lessen the damage to the relationship and behavioral changes that occur.Unlike the other articles, Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) conducted a study that was based on a 25 year time span. The authors wanted to explore the social and psychological issues parents and children face after a divorce along with how the child’s development is affected. When this study first began, there were 131 children selected with ages ranging from 3 to 18 years old. To be considered for the study, participants had to be Caucasian and middle class so that they could look at a sample that was under the best of circumstances (Wallerstein & Lewis, 2004).After the initial meeting, they recontacted the individuals later on after 18 months, 5 years, 10 years, and 25 years after the divorce occurred. Parents were asked about their marriage, causes of divorce, relationship with their child and so on.
They also interviewed the teacher at the 18 month meeting to get more details on the child’s behavior. For the 25 year follow up, they also interviewed a comparison group which was individuals that went to the same schools as the children from divorced families and were around the same age but they had an intact home.The authors discovered that the lives of both the parents and children changed drastically as the parents were trying to restore their economic and social states which led the children to have a lack of parental support during this rough time in their lives. One conclusion they came up with based on children of all ages was that they thought that, “Personal relationships are unreliable, and even the closet family relationships cannot be expected to hold firm” (Wallerstein & Lewis, 2004, p. 359).Even after 25 years, the researchers found that these individuals could still recall the emotions they had when their parents had first gotten a divorce. These memories are so vivid to them that even though they were at a very young age, as an adult some of these people still experience dreams that reenact violent situations that occurred.
Most individuals said that they didn’t really have a childhood due to the fact that they did not participate in extracurricular activities among other activities.As teens, the participants didn’t have many rules or curfews that they had to obey unlike their peers in intact families. Because of this, more of these children acted out. For example, one in five girls had her first sexual experience before age 14 (Wallerstein & Lewis, 2004). It was found that the participants in the comparison group recalled talking with their parents about plans for college and a career while as the individuals in the divorce group were never engaged in conversation with either parent about college or a career.Also regarding parent communication, the authors found that even if the children did remain in touch with their parents, it didn’t lessen their suffering that they faced in adulthood.
Finally, as in regards to the participants’ views on relationships in adulthood, Wallerstein & Lewis (2004) found that they were negatively affected by this because they “lacked good images of how an adult man and woman can live together in a stable relationship… which blocks the child’s developmental journey” (p. 86). Therefore, the effect divorce has on children is devastating. Individuals tend to do poorly in their academic studies, are more socially withdrawn, and demonstrate disobedient behavior compared to children in intact homes. With parental conflict and little parental guidance, researchers found that children ended up having poorer outcomes.
In adulthood, the children of divorce had relationship issues due to a lack of knowledge of what a healthy relationship looks like.These children go through divorce at such critical times in there development that it effects them not only at the time of the occurrence but also down the road as they become adults. Works Cited Berk, L. (2008). Divorce.
Infants, children, and adolescents, 6, 509-512. Lansford, J. E.
, Malone, P. S. , Castellino, D. R. , Dodge, K. A.
, Pettit, G. S. , & Bates, J. E.
(2006). Trajectories of internalizing, externalizing, and grades for children who have and have not experienced their parents’ divorce or separation. Journal of Family Psychology, 20 (2), 292-301.Pruett, M.
K. , Williams, T. Y. , Insabella, G. , & Little, T.
D. (2003). Family and legal indicators of child adjustment to divorce among families with young children. Journal of Family Psychology, 17 (2), 169-180.
Schick, A. (2002). Behavioral and emotional differences between children of divorce and children from intact families: Clinical significance and mediating processes.
Swiss Journal of Psychology, 61 (1), 5-14. Wallerstein, J. S.
& Lewis, J. M. (2004).
The unexpected legacy of divorce report of a 25 year study. Psychoanalytic Psychology 21(3), 353-370.