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The Effects Of Divorce On Children's Mental Health

1458 words - 6 pages

Considering that over 45 percent of marriages today end in divorce, it is crucial to understand recent research regarding the positive and negative effects of divorce on children’s mental health. Studies have shown that although children of broken homes generally have more adjustment difficulties than children of intact families, the distinction between these two groups appears to be much less significant than previously assumed (1). In the case of parental separation, studies suggest that children undergo a decline in the standard of living, exhibit poorer academic performance, engage in increased alcohol/ substance abuse, as well as experience diminishing rates of employment. However, underlying factors must be taken into consideration when assessing the long-term consequence of divorce on children, which happens to be resiliency rather than dysfunction (1). These key contextual factors that influence post-divorce adjustment include parenting styles, custody arrangements, age of the child, financial stability, and most importantly, the nature and magnitude of parental conflict. Persistent, unsettled conflict or violence is linked to greater emotional anxiety and psychological maladjustment in children, whereas negative symptoms like fear and insecurity are reduced when parents resolve their conflicts through compromise and negotiation. Although divorce unveils many risk factors involving a child’s health, it may be more beneficial rather than detrimental to children living in highly discorded families, in which children are able to acquire externalizing and internalizing behaviors (1). The development of coping skills and living in a supportive and empathetic environment are two crucial components for children to manage their new circumstances, and the transition should predominantly concentrate on refining parenting practices, as they denote the most essential part of the process of adjustment (1). Divorce has shown to result in psychological maladjustment in children, as it is still stigmatized and linked with economic/financial hardships and family disharmony. However, several features come into play when discussing the psychological well-being of children from divorced families, and depending on the situation, divorce may not always have an adverse impact on children.
Traditionally, it has been believed that both parents living in the same household as their children is the ideal social institution for youngsters, offering an overall better upbringing with more opportunities and principles than the single-parent family. Consequently, the apparent harmful outcomes of divorce are associated with deficits in social skills that are due to growing up with a single parent versus both parents (2). These socialization deficits can lead to various psychological disorders such as Avoidant Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, or even Autism (depending on the age of onset) (3). Generally, divorce is correlated with a declined quality...

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