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The Effects of Divorce On Children

Roy Milam

Since the early 90’s scores of marital researchers have changed their stance on the negative stigma that once accompanied divorce. Yet it would be reckless of any couple, husband or wife to enter into divorce without considering a cost/benefit analysis.  Recent research regarding the effects of divorce reveal that the effects of divorce vary, depending on a couples  particular situation.  Many researchers have concluded that couples need no longer assume that old assumptions of the ill effects of divorce applicable to them.  Mounting evidence in the annals of scientific journals detail that the ill effects of divorce.

For example, children whose parents have divorced:

• Will have increased risks for health problems

• Are increasingly the victims of abuse and neglect

• Exhibit more behavioral and emotional problems

• Are involved more frequently in crime and drug abuse

• Will have an increased likelihood to abuse alcohol and begin using drugs

• Have higher rates of suicide

• Will experience emotional and mental health problems significantly more as
adults than adult children of intact families

• More frequently demonstrate a diminished learning capacity, are more likely to
repeat a grade, and have higher drop-out rates and lower rates of college
graduation

• Have permanently weakened relationships with their parents

• Will have destructive ways of handling conflict and a poorer self-image

• Will be more likely to feel hostility and rejection

• Will demonstrate an earlier loss of virginity, more cohabitation, higher
expectations of divorce, higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have
children

• Will have a higher incident of serious abuse, including sexual abuse

• Will have an increased tendency for premarital teenage sexual activity, number of
sexual partners during adolescence, and out-of-wedlock childbirths

• Will have difficulty with romance and courtship as they reach adulthood, which
will include  having more failed romantic relationships, and
experiencing a more rapid turnover of dating partners, and higher levels of
cohabitation; this will lead to a greater number of sexual partners, which in itself
creates a grave risk that one will acquire an incurable sexually transmitted
disease

• Will have more positive attitudes toward divorce, have less favorable attitudes
toward marriage, are less likely to insist on a lifelong marital commitment, and
are less likely to think positively of themselves as potential parents

• Will be negatively impacted economically due to a decreased household income
and have a higher risk of poverty

• Will have destructive ways of handling conflict because they have not seen their
parents’ ability to handle conflict and move toward agreement

• Will be affected in their adult years due to the strains and difficulties that arise in
daily rituals, family celebrations, family traditions, and special occasions and see
these losses as major.

Unlike the experience of their parents, the child’s suffering does not reach its peak at the
time of the divorce and then level off. Rather, the emotional effects of the parents’
divorce can be played and replayed throughout the next three decades of a child’s life.
Divorce has pervasive ill effects on children.

1 (This information is summarized from the article, The Effects of Divorce on America1.)Patrick Fagan and Robert Rector, “The Effects of Divorce on America,” The Heritage Foundation, June 5, 2000, https://www.heritage.org/marriage-and-family/report/theeffects-divorce-america

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