Marriage/Divorce and the Effects on Children

In marriage counseling a common question in the minds of a couple is, “if we do end up in a divorce how will it affect our child or children”? The goal in marriage counseling is to help repair and strengthen the marriage. Unfortunately sometimes, despite the best of intentions and hard work in marriage therapy couples do terminate their marriages. Because a couple is so focused on their own issues relating to their marriage the effect of breaking up the relationship and the affect on the children is overlooked.

The family is the building block of our society. It is the place where everyone begins life and to which they always belong. The more that members of a family belong to each other, the more each individual and each family thrive. When rejection occurs in the family, especially between the parents when they separate or divorce, or even when they never come together, the entire family and especially the children, suffers.

Research shows that a break up of a marriage does adversely effect the the children except in the cases where active abuse of the children is taking place within the family. 

Amy Desai J.D. in her research on “How Could Divorce Affect My Kids”? determined the following.

While virtually every child suffers the lost relationship and lost security, for many, the emotional scars have additional, more visible consequences. More than 30 years of research continues to reveal the negative effects of divorce on children. Most of these measurable effects are calculated in increased risks. In other words, while divorce does not mean these effects will definitely occur in your child, it does greatly increase the risks. The odds are simply against your kids if you divorce.

Research comparing children of divorced parents to children with married parents shows:

  • Children from divorced homes suffer academically. They experience high levels of behavioral problems. Their grades suffer, and they are less likely to graduate from high school.
  • Kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.
  • Because the custodial parent’s income drops substantially after a divorce, children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty than are children with married parents.
  • Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.

Before you say, “Not my kid,” remember that the children and teens represented in these statistics are normal kids, probably not much different from yours. Their parents didn’t think they would get involved in these things, either. Again, we’re looking at increased risks.

A few more statistics to consider:

  • Children from divorced homes experience illness more frequently and recover from sickness more slowly. They are also more likely to suffer child abuse.
  • Children of divorced parents suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress. And the emotional scars of divorce last into adulthood.

The scope of this last finding – children suffer emotionally from their parents’ divorce – has been largely underestimated. Obviously, not every child of divorce commits crime or drops out of school. Some do well in school and even become high achievers. However, we now know that even these children experience deep and lasting emotional trauma.

For all children, their parents’ divorce colors their view of the world and relationships for the rest of their lives.

If your marriage is struggling and you would like to learn more about how to repair your marriage please contact me at Family Christian Counseling Center of Phoenix. familycccp.org/

Mike DeMoss MAPC, LAC

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