Children of Divorce: A New Epidemic

Essay by alisharenee05College, UndergraduateA, April 2009

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The divorce rate began its rise in the 1960's, and peaked in the 1980's, with the ending of one of every two marriages. Divorce has slowly become more accepted, making it a major issue among today's society. As the rate of divorce increases, so does the number of children being affected. Statistics have shown that one million American children each year have parents who are divorced (Zinsmeister, 2005). Society has failed to ask the single most important question when it comes to the issue of divorce: How does divorce affect these children, and can anything be done about it?Divorce is now the single largest cause of childhood depression. A study conducted in 1988 by Professor Jeanne Dise-Lewis which surveyed almost seven hundred junior high students found that the only thing more stressful than a parental divorce was the death of a parent or family member. Forty-three percent of the children from divorced families say that they felt like a "different" person with each of their parents.

Another sixty-four percent said that life was stressful in their families after the divorce (Zinsmeister, 2005).

Divorce has been shown to have a major effect on a child's psychological development. Both the mother and father play vital roles in the psychological development of a young child. If either parent becomes distant or absent while going through divorce, the child could become psychologically scarred for life. A study conducted by Judith Wallerstein showed that even five years after a divorce had occurred, children were still suffering psychologically, perhaps more so than when the divorce had initially occurred (Zinsmeister, 2005).

Children of divorce usually experience unique long-term and short-term changes. They often become more demanding, dependent, and sometimes less affectionate after a divorce. Less obvious, deep rooted, psychological differences are frequently noticed on a long-term scale.