Falling Through the Cracks: Children of Divorce
Uploaded by Admin on Feb 29, 2000
Regardless of age, race, sex or religion, divorce has devastating, often long-term, consequences. The immediate effects of divorce, such as hurt, anger and confusion, are evident in both children and adults. The longer-term effects are not so easy to pin point.
Adults are usually able to articulate their emotions and verbalize their distress, anger, pain and confusion to help themselves through this period of transition in their lives. As well, adults have the means and ability to seek outside professional assistance independently. Children on the other hand, are not as likely to have the ability to identify the source or kind of turmoil they are experiencing. Therefore, it is difficult for us, as adults, to be fully aware of the consequences of divorce on our children.
It is estimated that nearly one half of children born today will spend time in a single parent household. Although some of these children are born into single parent families, many more are the product of divorce, and are made to endure the conflict and emotional upset that divorce brings about. At this time, when children require stability and emotional support, the pressures of growing up are often compounded by the stress of divorce and family breakdown.
When divorce involves children many questions must be answered. Questions such as: With whom will the children live? How often will the non-custodial parent have access, and under what circumstances? Although simple to ask, these questions are never easy to answer, and children frequently become pawns in a game of revenge.
Today, mothers make up the majority of parents who are awarded custody, with fathers making up only 13%. However, this was not always the case. Prior to the 19th century, fathers, under English common law followed in North America , received automatic custody of their children when the marriage dissolved. During the 19th century gradual change occurred. Mothers were first given custody of young children and eventually of older children as well. Today, the trend is changing again, with many couples opting for, or courts ordering, joint custody.
Several studies have been done to decipher which custody situation provides the most security and stability for children of divorced families, but it remains that each situation is unique and the individuality of the child(ren) must be the top consideration in making these arrangements.
The decision for a couple to divorce is, at best, an emotionally difficult and exhausting time. The decision is...