Divorce is a social problem that sociologists and psychologists have dealt with on several occasions. It causes adverse psychological and social effects to divorcing couples and children depending on the society in which the family stays. This occurs because societies accord the institution of marriage different levels of respect.
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Currently, divorce is increasing at an alarming rate and children are most affected. Sociologists have severally investigated the social effects of divorce on children, and have come up with several findings. This essay discuses how divorce causes social problems to children, social implications of divorce, and social movements that are oriented to issues of divorce (Chase, 2010).
Why Divorce is a Social Problem on Children
Divorce is the termination of a marriage before the death of one of the spouses. Children get traumatized with this act because it strangely affects their social life. Toddlers or very young children may not comprehend what is happening in the family, but they are able to notice the absence of one of their parents.
To some children, the absence of one parent causes them pain and suffering that impairs their proper social growth. Molander (2006) argues that lack of love from the missing parent hampers the child’s social development. Boys may grow having negative attitude towards women while girls may develop having negative attitude towards men (Molander, 2006).
The life of children changes completely after the divorce. They feel scared on how they will cope up without their father or mother. Others start wondering how their life would be if the parent they live with abandons them, as well. In fact, so many rhetoric questions crop up in their minds.
For instance, they wonder where they will begin schooling, whether they will be able to meet with their friends, whether the other parent will still be visiting them, and whether they will live with their brothers and sisters in the future, or they will be living with the other parent. All this makes them unsecure and negatively affect their social life (Lee, 2002).
Divorce separates young children from their primary caretaker who, usually, is their mother. This tampers with children’s social development that usually leads to long-term social distressing problems. Pre-school children may develop anxiety that may force them to become anti-social because of harassment or bullying from other kids.
Children who grow in single parent families or who witness their parents divorcing develop low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a big social problem because it affects the development of the children’s self-confidence. Children often think they caused the divorce. This makes them to live in isolation wondering about what their friends would think about them. They always see themselves as losers especially if aged between seven to seventeen years old (Lee, 2002).
Divorce is, indeed, a social problem to children because it makes them to become aggressive and angry. Aggressiveness develops immediately after the divorce and lasts for a few weeks. Tralle (2005) provides that children of divorce, especially the adolescents, develop aggressiveness or become rude.
Others may start drinking alcohol or using drugs to cope up with trauma of losing one parent through divorce. Moreover, divorce may cause depression to children if life after divorce becomes stressful or they miss good thing they used to enjoy when both parents were living together.
Children of divorce develop poor social skills. Sociology experts provide that children of divorce find it difficult to trust other people unconditionally (Molander, 2006). They reduce social contacts and relationship after the divorce. This affects them later in life because it may result into problems when forming intimate relationships.
Those children isolate themselves from almost all kinds of social events. Thus, they develop poor social skills. Moreover, divorce subjects children into psychological confusion making them vulnerable to delinquency, and sex before marriage (Molander, 2006).
Research provides that children of divorce are more likely to face academic difficulties. Such children’s academic performance is usually poor as compared with other children from intact families. According to Tralle (2005), boys become violent and encounter trouble coping up with their social groups, instructors, and the police. On the other hand, girls get depressed, and this impedes their ability to focus on their education. This eventually affects their social life.
Social Movements Oriented to Social Effects of Divorce on Children
There are several social movements that deal with the effects of divorce on children. Those movements aim at ensuring that children of divorce do not suffer due to separation of their parents. They fight for children’s rights and provide them with guidance and counseling to reduce their trauma and fear after the divorce. Anti-divorce movements criticize divorce because of its negative effects on developing children.
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They use religion and the researches they conducted on effects of divorce on children to argue against it. On the other hand, pro-divorce movements contradict with anti-divorce movements on grounds that children from intact families also suffer some of the effects that children of divorce suffer. Furthermore, they argue that children suffer more in families with problems prior to divorce than in divorce. In general, social movements oriented to divorce intend to support the wellbeing of divorce children (Molander, 2006).
Another social movement that is oriented to divorce is Malta Divorce Movement (MDM). It was formulated with an intention of outlining the basic requirements for one to obtain divorce on proper legal frameworks. This movement supports divorce on legal grounds. MDM argues that those people who are denied the right to divorce are discriminated against.
Furthermore, it argues that children who are reared in a family where parents are separated suffer similar social problems as those whose parents are divorced. On the contrary, anti-divorce movements argue that divorce undermines commitment which is the fundamental part of a marriage (Molander, 2006).
Social Implications of Divorce
Divorce has got social implications for those couples who terminate their marriages. The partners separate permanently. Thus, they become singles and the children stay with one partner or get shared between the partners. It changes the person’s social life, and leads the couple into dejection and apprehension.
Couples who used to work together, eat out together and play together suffer socially because the effects of divorce frustrate such relationships (Temke, 2006). Men may experience low self-confidence when they interact with their friends because they are once more single. Divorce subjects children into social trauma. This implies that children of divorce remain unhappy after divorce because they come from unhappy families.
In addition, couples who terminate their marriage through divorce remain unhappy afterwards. This occurs because the partners experience changes in their social situation. Divorce is very stressful to an individual’s life. Psychologists provide that it is next to the loss of a partner.
Apart from emotional implications, divorce has financial implications. For instance, divorce creates two families rather than one. This increases total family expenses. Research provides that there are societal costs attached to divorce (Lee, 2002). Children of divorce over-represent juvenile delinquency, adult prison population, unemployment, and high rates of school dropouts. A large portion of people who cause social problems in the society arise from children of divorce or those brought up by single parents (Lee, 2002).
Divorce can be helpful to some couples. For instance, it can allow either party to gain relief from a dysfunctional marriage. In addition, it can make irresponsible party to meet his/her financial obligations. Those obligations may include paying school fees for children, and providing some percentage of his/her salary to cater for children upbringing (Isle, 2012).
Divorce makes the couples to separate permanently. However, they may decide to remarry later if they agree with each other. Divorce makes children to have two homes instead of their usual one home. This may force them to have less contact with either of their parents or keep on switching home, which may become socially disturbing.
Divorce is a social problem that affects the involved parties emotionally, socially, and psychologically. It changes the social situation of couples and children. Children are affected most because they suffer effects of losing one of their parents. Moreover, the society as a whole suffers the effects of divorce because children of divorce may become delinquent, and cause trouble to society members.
Current increase in divorce has led to the formation of social movements that are aimed at discouraging divorce because of the negative effects it causes to children. Some movements advocate for divorce especially if the couples have been experiencing major disagreements for a long time. They believe that this would relief the parties from a dysfunctional marriage. Finally, divorce has emotional, social, and psychological implications to the couples, children and the society as a whole (Chase, 2010).
Chase, K. (2010). Dicken and the Rise of Divorce: The Failed Marriage Plot and the Novel Tradition. Victorian Institute Journal, 38(1), 211-214.
Isle, I. (2012). Legal Separation Grounds for Divorce: The Legal Process. Retrieved from http://www.divorceaid.co.uk/legal/process.htm
Lee, M.Y. (2002). A Model of Children’s Postdivorce Behavioral Adjustment in Maternaland Dual-Residence Arrangements. Journal of Family Issues, 23, 672-697.
Molander, H. (2006). Effects of Divorce on Children and New Families. Retrieved from https://web4health.info/en/answers/child-divorce-gen.htm
Temke, M. (2006). The Effect of Divorce on Children, Family & Consumer Resources. Hampshire: University of Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
Tralle, M. (2005). Effects of Divorce on Children: For Divorcing Parents. Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/