The extent to which a child is affected by divorce is a widely controversial topic. While no child goes through the divorce of their parents without experiencing any change at all, (for example, they would typically no longer be living with both of their parents anymore) the extent to which the child is affected is frequently debated. Psychologists have conducted extensive research in order to figure out whether divorce is typically detrimental to the state of the child, or if it really has no significant effect. One such experiment was conducted by the Clinical Psychology Laboratory at University of Chieti in 2015. Four hundred and seventy adults, who were products of a divorced household, were given anonymous surveys. These surveys measured the amount of feelings of alienation and issues with self esteem that surfaced later in life. They measured how many of the participants experienced neglect and other commonalities associated with divorced parents, a prevalent example being feeling as if one parent was trying to turn them against the other make the child choose a favorite. An association was found in self-esteem being positively correlated with parent care and negatively associated with overprotection. Meaning those that felt neglected developed feelings of low self esteem and those that felt crowded by the single, overprotective parent, also developed lower self-esteem. This study concluded that children who experience divorce, developed statistically significant levels of self esteem later in life.
Another study, also conducted in 2015, by psychologists Kathryn Lynn Modecki, Melissa Hagan, Irwin Sandler, and Sharlene Wolchik. This specifically looked into the effects that the absence of a father figure due to divorce has on the child. Statistically, in most cases, mothers are awarded custody over fathers. It was found that more mental health issues were reported by children that claimed to have little contact with their father. This was heightened in situations where the father was seen more often due to the increased amount of conflict that occurred between the parents. Those who are not exposed to their father as much following the divorce also had poorer psychosocial adjustment. These results supported the idea of a divided household being worse for the child.
Another study was conducted by Grant W. Mohi in 2015. This focused on offspring of divorced households and their success in romantic relationships later in life. Interviews found it to be statistically significant that the success of relationships did not correlate with divorce in early life. Despite conflict between their parents being reported, it was not found that this conflict was mirrored in the child’s adult life.
A personal account from sociologist Christine Carter also supported the idea of divorce. The overall message was that divorce was better for the children than remaining in a marriage that created a bad environment for the children. It was emphasized that the divorce had to be a ‘good’ divorce. Meaning, the parents remained in contact and conflict was avoided as much as possible. Healthy relationships were maintained between both parents and the child. It was supported that a more positive environment, whether divorced or not, is what’s best for the child.
In my opinion, divorce is ultimately bad for children. The evidence was overwhelming during my research. There were numerous articles and experiments conducted that supported there being significant negative effects on children that go through divorce. While a ‘good’ divorce was mentioned by a few sources, the chances of this happening are slim and it seems rare that it is achieved. I concluded each source above to be credible because they were scientific experiments that were reviewed and published. The last account was an example of primary research in how the experiment was conducted by the sociologist herself. It was supported by other cases that she researched. Overall, I find that there is a large amount of evidence supporting the theory that divorce causes negative effects on the children involved.
Verrocchio, M. C., Marchetti, D., & Fulcheri, M. (2015, November 03). Perceived Parental Functioning, Self-Esteem, and Psychological Distress in Adults Whose Parents are Separated/Divorced. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01760/full
Elam, K. K., Sandler, I., Wolchik, S., & Tein, J. (2016, March). Non-Residential Father-Child Involvement, Interparental Conflict and Mental Health of Children Following Divorce: A Person-Focused Approach. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4749464/
Mohi, G. W. (2015, September 22). Positive Outcomes of Divorce: A Multi-Method Study on the Effects of Parental Divorce on Children. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from https://urj.ucf.edu/docs/mohi.pdf
Carter, C. (2012, March 19). The “Good” Divorce. Retrieved February 23, 2018, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_good_divorce