Today, half of America's children will experience their parent's marriage breaking up into a divorce. Forty percent of the children growing up in the US are being raised without their fathers. That's quite a shocking number.
Recent studies on the psychological effects of divorce on children have yielded surprising results.
Marriage expert Larry Billata stated in his article: "18 Shocking Statistics About Children And Divorce";
"People who come from broken homes, are almost twice as likely to commit suicide than those who do not come from broken homes. The psychological effects of divorce on children depend greatly on the father.
Our society has undervalued the role of a father in a boy and girl’s childhood years.
A father (and a father alone) has such a powerful impact on his children’s lives that he can choose to create an emotionally secure, productive adult or a troubled adult with a vast array of habits and insecurities. Don’t believe it?
Ask the most troubled person you know. In virtually every case, you’ll find that the father was not a key part of their life. And if he was, the impact that he had on this person was more destructive than it was positive."
Obviously, divorce is a negative thing for children, and research has shown that some of these children will experience a parent's second divorce as well.
If the damages to children from divorce isn't enough for a child, many of these divorced parents remarry throwing both party's children together, forcing these children to have to endure the competition of new siblings and multiple "parents".
It's one thing to put one's children through a divorce, but yet another - to bring stressful competition for mom and dad's attentions into the picture.
The psychological effects of divorce on children are tremendous. The list of compounding effects is like throwing a rock into a pond and watching the rings of impact from that rock spread outward, wide and far.
Having experienced my own parent's divorce, I see it as "gutting" a child ... ripping away from them the very ingredients that give a child a sense of belonging and security. A child's parents are the King and Queen of their lives.
The attitude amongst many seems to be - if their marriage ever yields unwanted trouble, they can always get a divorce. Rather like a get-out-of-jail-free, card.
Yet, for the children of these divorces, it can be the same as sacrificing the future well-being of one's own child for personal convenience and comfort.
Every marriage has its' share of problems and disappointment and battles should be chosen according to critical importance. The infatuating feelings of love can fade and return to a couple's marriage relationship repeatedly, throughout a lifetime.
Life never promises that anything will remain free of hard times. This includes marriage. Anything worthwhile in life requires dedication; work, commitment and perseverance.
Today we live in a society of convenience and ease with modern technology, where people are used to getting quick results. Yet when it comes to people, nothing is ever quick or easy.
It requires patience and investment of self and time to nurture and work on relationships. I would advise those who are single to remain that way if they're looking for an easy, problem-free marriage. There is no such entity.
Marriage requires commitment, effort and sometimes enduring periods of difficulty and unhappiness. There is no place for thinking of divorce as an option, when one is committed to their marriage and family. Commitment and divorce are an oxymoron.
There may be times when abuse or adultery need to be dealt with through intervention, counseling and sometimes separation. Yet, to divorce merely because we don't wish to endure anymore hardship, is one of the most selfish acts parents can perpetrate on their children.
When the parents' marriage is suffering troubles, it is best to not make it their child's problem as much as possible.
This means that even when they separate - they should keep any malignant feelings about the other parent to themselves and nurture their child's love for the other parent as much as possible. Both parents contribute to a child's well-being and outcome.
Lesley Foulkes-Jamison, Ph.D. in her article: "The Effects Of Divorce On Children," says:
"Children from divorced families do best when visits from the non-custodial parent are regular, predictable, and occur in a “conflict-free” setting. The quality of the relationship is more important than the quantity.
If frequent contact occur in undesirable circumstances, the child is likely to have adjustment problems. A child’s adjustment is facilitated if the custodial parent is warm, understanding, nurturing, and demonstrates good parenting skills."
Divorce is no guarantee that the hardship will cease for the adults. Quite often, it's the exchange of one set of problems for another.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to surmise that every couple of child-bearing age who wish to get married, should be required to obtain marriage counseling and learn the psychological effects of divorce on children before being granted a marriage license.
It may not be a cure, but it could possibly help to motivate parents to fight harder to keep their marriages intact.