Column: Parents, Children, and Divorce

Parents, Children, and Divorce
By “Concerned Student”
Los Alamos

With an ever-increasing world population, marriages are becoming more and more common. However, with the increasing number of marriages, there comes a subsequent increase in the number of divorces. Statistics suggest that every one in two marriages will end in divorce, and 40 percent of the children born in this decade will have to experience the marital transition of their parents. Additionally, an abundance of research collected by various groups suggest that children who are present for a marital transition are more likely to become emotionally and socially distressed during adulthood. It may include issues with depression, interpersonal trust, or other such developmental issues.

As children are typically not fully emotionally developed at a young age, the effects of marital transition are typically observable in children and young adults. Studies from various parts of the world have provided similar results, suggesting that the occurrence of divorce can influence youth regardless of their location. Ergo, the effects of a divorce are not limited to the youth of a specific country, for it is the weakening of the familial structure that leads to the adverse effects proposed above.

The real issue of the matter is the failure of social cohesion. And it is not just the short-term effects of marital transition, but long-term effects as well. As the process may interrupt the emotional and social development of the child, the resulting behavioral issues may persist into adulthood. Studies suggest that if these behavioral issues persist, the affected youth will become more likely to have a divorce themselves when they are adults, further weakening the social cohesion of future populations.

As such, we need to begin implementation of greater action to prevent further loss of social cohesion. One action that could be taken in respect to this goal is simply to raise awareness. There are parties who are suffering from the effects of marital transition and are not being offered the basic resources needed to cope. Perhaps, in part, because of the increased instances of marital transition that makes it seem like such a common event, thus undeserving of any additional resources. Of course, simply acknowledging that it is a common issue does not make it any less influential to society and its social structure.

In order to more effectively combat the weakening of this particular strain of failure in social cohesion, a more “hands on” approach may be necessary. For instance, offering counseling programs to adults on the potential effects of life course disruption, and how they may more effectively cope with potential issues or stresses. But it is equally important to provide services to the youth involved, as they are the ones who are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior at a young age as a result, which may potentially continue into adulthood.

Indeed, if the restoration of sociability is to be enacted, the focus cannot remain specifically around the adults involved, for it is the youth of today that must be helped in order to sustain social awareness in the future. By providing the means to create an environment where constructive social skills can be cultivated, it may contribute to maintaining a desirable social system, unconstrained by mistrust, depression, juvenile delinquency, and other anti-social behaviors. With these goals in mind, it would be expected that the amount of depression and anti-social behavior noticed in children of divorce would gradually decline. And with a movement to the betterment of social interaction within the societies of the world, it may also be expected that humanity as a whole would become more socially cohesive. And in doing so, social sustainability gradually becomes more attainable.


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