Once again I had to write about something I am passionate about and got an A. However, in the process of researching and reflecting on this topic, my heart was broken because I know many families and children that have been impacted by divorce. My heart and prayers go out to them all.
Children of Divorce
What is the one thing parents can do to their children that will have a lasting impact on them for years to come? Something that will change their lives forever. Not only their lives but the lives of future generations. The answer is DIVORCE.
With the statistics of fifty percent of all marriages ending in divorce (marriage101.org) it is very likely that children will be involved. Even though couples say the words, “till death do us part” fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. Divorce may seem like the answer to their problems but in actuality it only causes more problems for them and their children.
Listen to the Voices of Divorce
There are many voices that say divorce may affect the children temporally but they are resilient and can bounce back with no problem. This has been proven not to be true. Many statistics show that problems are not temporary but long lasting (Bryant). Children of divorce are affected in many ways. Not just now but into their adulthood years. According to an article in Marriage 101 children are affected by divorce, “When a parent leaves the home, the children feel unwanted which may cause them to have problems in school or social settings.
They will often withdraw due to their unhappiness.”(Marriage 101.org) It is the parent’s duty to protect their children from all harm if possible, even the harm that may come from divorce. When people become parents, there are many sacrifices that will need to be made in order to give their children the best possible chance at a normal life and adulthood.
In the movie, “Courageous”, it tells the story of five men. Four of them are police officers and one is a struggling laborer. Four of the men have children. They are sharing their experiences with the young man who will soon be a husband and father.
The movie opens up with one of the men having his truck stolen right in front of his eyes. Before the thug could drive off completely, the man jumps through the driver side window and grabs the steering wheel. He was dragged down the street risking his life but he REFUSED to let go. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDa0zvQ8zKI) The police officers that came to assist were shocked thinking he was crazy to risk his life for his truck. When the thug crashed the truck and ran, the broken, exhausted, bruised man opened his truck door. The officers noticed his infant son strapped in his car seat screaming at the top of his lungs in fear. One of the officers asked the other, “Would you have done that for your child?” (www.Courageousthemovie.com)
This is a question all parents should ask themselves. Would they sacrifice their lives and comfort for the sake of their children? Almost all parents will say they would give their lives (physical) for their children. They would die for them. But I am not sure if that is an accurate statement since most of them won’t even give up part of their happiness for them.
Is divorce always wrong?
The question may be asked, “ Is divorce always wrong?” Of course it is not but is it always necessary? Couples sometimes claim they are no longer compatible or irreconcilable differences; but were they compatible when they first got married? Are they doing everything they can to make the marriage work? Most couples claim they deserve to be happy (Rosemblum). Maybe they are not getting along anymore or possibly going through mid-crisis so this gives them the right to seek their freedom through divorce. Author Elizabeth Marquardt states, “It frees adults at the expense of their children growing up too fast.” (Washington Post) Because the parents are no longer happy, they feel they have the right to divorce regardless of the havoc it causes.
There may be instances where divorce may be necessary. In homes where there is physical, emotional, drug or sexual abuse, children should not be made to suffer in these environments. When the children are at risk, the safest thing to do is remove the child and the victim of abuse from that home. The children will suffer more if in these types of homes. For normal homes, divorce will affect the children.
Effects of Divorce on Children
Some effects of divorce on children are anger, confusion, rebellion and insecurity (Bryant). They are being torn from their homes where they had a mother and a father. Many children will feel it is their fault because they may hear their parents fighting about them. When children were asked how they felt about their parents’ divorce, many were torn. Their foundation of stability was ripped out from under them. Children of divorce may now be in homes where there is no father. Statistics show that children without fathers in the home have a higher risk for drug use, suicide, criminal activity and much more (www.fathersunite.org).
Due to divorce, children may now have to deal with joint custody issues (Arizona Republic). A joint custody situation is where children may live with one of their parents full-time and visit the other parent occasionally. This takes the other parent out of the child’s daily life for the most part. Many times the parent eventually won’t be a part of the child’s life at all. This causes long term, harmful effects in their lives. Some of the children will be forced to live in two different homes possibly with new step -parents, step-siblings which now they all become a part of a blended family.
Confused and Torn
With younger children who are already feeling confused and torn, now are having to live in two different homes with two different set of rules (Clarke-Stewart, Brentano). Some may even have to attend two different schools and two set of friends. This tends to cause huge insecurity issues. In many custody cases, parents will use the children as pawns for their benefit. The children feel pulled in both directions as parents try to get their children to see their side of the issues.
Children may feel they are stuck in the middle of their parents battles (Stall). Each parent tries to get the allegiance of the child in order to feel justified. The child feels as if he/she is betraying one of the parents when they want to be with the other parent or show love and affection to the other parent. All of this very damaging on a young child. The emotional development of these children may be damaged (NPR)
Many homes break up because the parents no longer feel happy with each other. When talking about happiness, is it far too much to ask parents to stay together for the sake of the children? Is it really that important for the proper development of the children? Couples have claimed that they feel their children are better off in a home where the parents are more compatible or happy. They may believe that the children are being harmed under this stressful situation.
Some say why should they stay together if there is a chance of them finding happiness with someone else? Many of these couples have married young and want a chance to be able to live a happy life with someone who is more compatible with them. Since they believe that children are resilient and will recover from the change, many do not hesitate to take their opportunity to get a fresh start with someone new. Some of these parents may be children of divorce themselves therefore they have no reference for what a “normal” home should be like.
No More Stigma for Divorcing
Divorce has become an easy out for couples. Back in the 6o’s-70’s, divorce was a huge stigma and not something easy to do. Divorce these days are no longer like that. Even religions who have always frowned on divorce have become more lenient and allow divorce. Because of the way Americans feel, “it’s my right to have it my way and be happy”, many couples have callously walked away from their marriages devastating their children’s lives (family life.com) There are some exceptions where one partner may not have a choice in the divorce. They are also victims whose lives have been flipped inside out.
Divorce Should Not be the First Options
With all things considered regarding divorce, I would hope that all avenues and consequences would be considered when dealing with divorce. Divorce should not be the first options couples turn to when there are issues especially where children are involved. Maybe the couple can seek counseling to deal with the issues that are causing them to have problems. Whether these are financial, trust, midlife crisis, infidelities etc. Couples would benefit from trying to make things work for the sake of the children. If possible, maybe they can find a neutral ground or learn ways to stay together at least until the children are grown and possibly out of the home so they children will have an opportunity to have a stable life. Divorce does not just affect the children today; it affects many lives for generations to come.
Title of this essay: Children of Divorce By Melinda Sanchez
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