The Hidden Effects Of Divorce On Children

Effects of divorce on childThese days, it is hard to come by an individual who does not know someone who has been divorced, or who has not been divorced themselves. In Hollywood, divorce is seemingly becoming a common occurrence, while paving the way for a society where we’re not only getting married later in life, but also searching for an almost unrealistic level of happiness in our marriage.

Many couples considering divorce refuse to believe that divorce can have a negative effect on their children. But many studies have been conducted that prove otherwise.

A long term study released in 2002 by the Institute for American Values found that “unhappily married adults who divorced were no more likely to report emotional or psychological improvements than those who stayed married.

According to this study, divorce does in fact NOT improve your emotional health. I think it would be safe to assume that this is due to the stress and financial burden divorce inflicts upon couples.

Here’s another fact you might not know…

The Institute for American Values study found that almost eight out of 10 couples who avoided divorce were happily married five years later. Surprising, isn’t it?

Here’s another fact…

Half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.” (Furstenberg, Peterson, Nord, and Zill, “Life Course”)

Many couples divorce, and then remarry without knowing the true cause of their marriage problems in the first marriage. This is why the second marriage divorce rate is even higher than that of the first marriage!

Here’s are some statistics specifically about the effects of divorce on children…

- Studies in the early 1980’s showed that children in repeat divorces earned lower grades and their peers rated them as less pleasant to be around. (Andrew J. Cherlin, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage –Harvard University Press 1981)

- Forty percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers. (Wade, Horn and Busy, “Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform” Hudson Institute Executive Briefing, 1997)

- Teenagers in single-parent families and in blended families are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year. (Peter Hill “Recent Advances in Selected Aspects of Adolescent Development” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1993)

- Compared to children from homes disrupted by death, children from divorced homes have more psychological problems. (Robert E. Emery, Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment” Sage Publications, 1988)

That statistic is truly amazing, isn’t it? But let me continue on…here are are some more shocking statistics on the effect of divorce on children…

- Children living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent more physically healthy than children from broken homes. (Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well-being” Journal of Marriage and the Family)

- Most victims of child molestation come from single-parent households or are the children of drug ring members. (Los Angles Times 16 September 1985 The Garbage Generation)

- A Child in a female-headed home is 10 times more likely to be beaten or murdered. (The Legal Beagle, July 1984, from “The Garbage Generation”)

- The study of children six years after a parental marriage breakup revealed that even after all that time, these children tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure”. (Wallerstein “The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1991)

- Children of divorce are four times more likely to report problems with peers and friends than children whose parents have kept their marriages intact. (Tysse, Burnett, “Moral Dilemmas of Early Adolescents of Divorced and Intact Families. Journal of Early Adolescence 1993)

- Children of divorce, particularly boys, tend to be more aggressive toward others than those children whose parents did not divorce. (Emery, “Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment, 1988)

- Children of divorce are at a greater risk to experience injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than children whose parents have remained married. (Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well Being” National Health Interview Survey on Child Health, Journal of Marriage and the Family)

- People who come from broken homes are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who do not come from broken homes. (Velez-Cohen, “Suicidal Behavior and Ideation in a Community Sample of Children” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1988)

- Children of divorced parents are roughly two times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who benefit from living with parents who did not divorce. (McLanahan, Sandefur, “Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps” Harvard University Press 1994). Seventy percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in broken homes. (Horn, Bush, “Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform)

- Following divorce, children are fifty percent more likely to develop health problems than two parent families. (Angel, Worobey, “Single Motherhood and Children’s Health”)

- Of all children born to married parents this year, fifty percent will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach their 18th birthday. (Fagan, Fitzgerald, Rector, “The Effects of Divorce On America)

I hope these statistics may eventually cause you (or your spouse) to seriously consider all the consequences of divorce before you make that final decision.

Based on these statistics, it becomes obvious that children need stable, loving homes with both mom and dad. There is, of course an exception to every rule, and in this case it is households where abuse is taking place. Children should under no circumstances remain in an abusive atmosphere that is unsafe for them.

But if there is no abuse taking place in your marriage and the two of you have simply “grown apart”,or fell out of love, I urge you to seek out help for your marriage before you give up completely. For your children’s sake, even if you’re feeling hopeless right now, get help for your marriage today.

By Larry Bilotta
With an 88% success rate, Larry Bilotta’s Marriage Lifeline Program, gives you hope for your marriage - even if you’re the only one who wants to Save the marriage. For FREE, straightforward, no-nonsense advice you can use to save your marriage, with or WITHOUT your spouse’s participation visit Larry’s web site: Stop Your Divorce. Article Source:

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I think that if you are going to discuss the negative views…try and put some positives in there too. Dont try and scare people out of divorce. Children of divorce may read this site and think there is no hope. I am from a so-called “broken home” and i have learned alot from my parents being divorced and i think i have had more positive things happen to me since they did get a divorce. I am 18 now and i have so much experience dealing with it and i am able to help others see that it will be ok.

to whomever wrote this article, thank you very much! this has helped tremendously! Scott U: Buffalo, New York

Thanks alot you just made my major term paper in family studies =)

I still feel the effects of my parent’s divorce and I was only 7 or 8 when it happened.

My mother and father separated when I was around eight years old.
I’ve suffered some bad experiences because of that. I will never forgive them for it.

Divorce should be made punishable with life imprisonment.

My mom and my dad divorced when i was only 2 years old my mom and my dad looked so perfect for eachother the home videos the pictures it all looked so perfect then when i was 10 or 9 years old my dad after he married this lady he then just told me and my sister that we have a step mom!!! the thing i hate about divorce is when it comes to boyfriends with the moms some are nice and some are mean like my moms boyfreind is really brutel and rude to us. he is not right for my mom but thats her choice life is hard for divorced kids divorce should never happen my step mom and my moms boyfriend are perfect match both evil. my dad doesnt even stick up for himself when it comes to my step mom hes her movie seat and shes the ladie who sits on that seat .alot of divorced kids go through alot like me and my sis but wat im typing write now is the truth my grandparents i look up to the most they were there for me since i was 18 months old but when my mom and her boyfriend fight we always get the car and drive until we find a place to stay its really hard for me because i end up getting stuck in the middle of it so thats all for now bye

My husband had an affair and we divorced.

We have 2 children (3 and 6 at the time).

My ex has since moved to another country and see’s the boys maybe a few weeks of the year.

Our 3 year old who is now 4 nearly 5 has reverted to weeing in his bed and has reverted to more childlike behaviour.

My 6 year old who is now 7 has changed completely as a person and I fear that he will never be the same again. He first blamed himself, asking if it was because sometimes he was naughty. He was so stressed out that he started biting his nails. He says his daddy is not his daddy anymore because he looks at him and it looks like him but doesn’t feel like him. He says he feels scared when he see’s pictures of his dad (and not because of abuse - I think its insecurity, though he doesn’t know how else to describe it). He says that our family was like a box and now the box is messed up and ruined.

I am here every day for my children as I work from home, I show them love and affection constantly, I have a supportive family who love the boys, I am always talking to them and available to listen… but still they have suffered these effects…. I feel I have given them everything I could but have still been helpless.

Divorce ruins childrens lives, it has severely affected and changed my childrens characters for the worse, and I believe they have been through less than what some children go through. I just hope that with my constant love and support that my son will learn to deal with it.

I divorced my oldest daughter’s father when she was two, I made sure that she and her father had a good relationship and that he stayed involved in her life. I resent people saying that it ruins childrens lives though. My daughter is healthy, inteligent, graduating a year early, has written a book, knows what she wants to do with her life and is comfortable with who she is. A lot of people told me that she didn’t have a chance when she was little because I was raising her alone. I couldn’t ask for a better 16 year old.

I don’t even know what to say after reading all of your comments… I will be going through a separation from my two year old’s father and now I feel like I am going to ruin his life by doing so! Alternatively, I feel like I am currently setting him up for disaster by staying in a relationship that is loveless and consistently tense. I feel that currently I am teaching my son how to be cold, as his father and I rarely show affection towards each other, however give our son TONS of hugs and kisses. If I leave my son’s father, I now feel like I am going to ruin his personality. So how do I win? Do I sacrifice myself and try and fake it as best as possible for the next 16 years, or do I leave, in hopes that I can teach my son how to be genuine, at the possible expense of his mental stability?? Some of the younger writers in here seem so angry and so bitter and my heart goes out to them and their families….. is there just no winning?

You sure know how to make it hurt inside. I haven’t seen my kids for 2 years. I love both very much. My ex wife is a user and vindictive loser. She ended up with the kids and forces me out of they’re lives. I was the affectionate one. She don’t want anything more than a good time and more money. I fear for those kids daily! She worked the system and lost everything. I was too nice and only the kids and my whole family’s hearts suffered.

Divorce crushes children causing deep hurt, dispair, hopelessness and a feeling of never being able to be loved. I am witnessing this before my very eyes…………two of the eldest teenaged daughters in my friend’s family have both attempted suicide, the the 8 year old boy just this week was rushed into hospital suffering ‘fits’………………his little body/soul unable to cope with the huge trauma of all of this.


Sorry for the rant, but as a teacher I see the destruction of divorce every day, the children give up and break down ……………..a pure tragedy

This list of the damage that divorce will do to a child is completely useless and way too negative. I use those adjectives because there are tools out there to figure out how to minimize as best as possible the effects of divorce. And it makes me sick that there is a hard and fast conclusion that staying married is always a better solution. It’s not always. My ex-wife and I were on a descent into more and more strife and bad behavior and our child seems happy even though we’ve divorced. Since we’ve divorced, things have gotten onto an even keel. We consulted a therapist about how best to make sure that a 2-year old (the age of my daughter) would be least affected by the divorce. The answer at that age is apparently that it’s really important for the child to always sleep in one house, to not shuttle back and forth to sleep in two different houses at least until they have gradually built up being accustomed to sleeping in the other house. I feel I am lucky that my ex and I are coming together to co-parent well. It is fatalistic thinking to suggest that divorce is what ruins kids. What ruins kids (and not always, but more often) is the parent who doesn’t care, the strife between parents whether divorced or not, etc. What saves kids (again, more often but not always) is one solid parent who does the hard work of loving and attending to them as much as is possible. This is shown in the studies.

My parents divorce when I was 12 was devastating to me. However, it is not always possible for people to stay together. If people can ride it out, they should look at ages when it is more advantageous to separate than to not. If you are married and your kids are 12 and 13 for instance, can you hold on until they’ve gotten through adolescence.

The best would have been if my wife and I had been able to stay together happily. But the second best was definitely not us being able to stay together unhappily. The second best is being able to be happily separated and at the same time attentive to our child.

For parents who can make it, this list is right in telling you that it can be worth a lot to hold on to what you’ve got. But there are people who can’t make it or who shouldn’t continue to stay married. You all are the ones who shouldn’t be sad and defeated about divorce and the horrible things it can do to your child; you should research and be patient with your ex so that you can develop peaceful relations. You should find out what will make things best for your child in a less than perfect situation.

Right now, my daughter seems happy and healthy.

For parents who can’t avoid divorce:

The most important thing you can do, by far, is to love your kids, be affectionate.

The next step is to be consistent, structured, and teach them and discipline them when necessary. Don’t let feeling guilty about the divorce let you cut them slack about being well-mannered and disciplined.

If you can do it, try to consult experts about the best things to do that are age-appropriate.

If it is possible, both parents need to be involved. If that is not possible, don’t beat yourself up, stay as involved as you can be. This can be hard, so don’t beat yourself up.

Don’t get into thinking that there’s nothing you can do to turn this thing around. In life, there are no guarantees, but children respond at all ages to the knowledge that their parents are doing the hard work to get it right.

Oh, and one other thing. Here were the conclusions about divorce and daycare from a whole variety of studies done:

“Overall, the effects of divorce and day care may not be as adverse as has been suggested in the past. The effects of both are quite variable, suggesting that problems need not result. Divorce may be better than continued conflict, and day care may be beneficial for some children.”

Be positive. Don’t fatalistically expect that things will be bad. Learn optimism. Teach it to your children. And if you are in a toxic marriage and have the means to get out, for god’s sake, get out!

After reading through the comments … I felt very stressed on the effects of divorce (which I am considering).

I as Todd belive it is very important to have a pessimistic attitude towards children and they will become stable individuals later on. Divorced parents need to cooperate and work together for the childs happiness. Being in a marriage with no love - happiness and tension are in my opinion more damaging to children.

I had the best upbringing in contrast to my husband who didn’t. If I knew this was going to affect my marriage I would have never married him. His change in attitude occurred after the birth of our daughter.His negativeness towards me is unbearable (as his fathers towards his mothers) and if I continue to stay in this marriage my daughter will grow up not respecting me or anyone else. However, after the divorce if we cooperate and provide our daughter with all of our love and support she will be more stable.

My parents got divorved when I was nine or ten years old, in the year of 2004…I’m now fifteen and today I looked back on some memories I have of that year, with a journal my teacher had our class keep. I wrote such lovely things, saying how I loved my mom, and how I the one time I caught a big fish with my dad and how we brought it home to show my mom…Right now, as I think about it, it makes me jealous of my friend Lauren’s family…who have both parents at home, and I wonder how I would have turned out had I had THOSE parents, instead of my own…I feel imature for being jealous, and I know my parents would yell at each other…but it makes question why I had to be so unfortunate. I can’t trust one parent, becuase I favor the other, and wish that parent wasn’t so hard to get along with. I think that most children, or teens like me, would feel resentment for the short comings of our parents, and wonder why they were the ones who’s parents were divorced, when they see those happy children who have both. 5 years later, I see the flaws in them both, and I hate it. I hate when one parent talks about the other one, for example
“Oh that’s just like your dad.” or “Your mom has always been that way.”, ect. Shows that even 5 years later, I resent it, wishing they at least should have tried therapy.
I remember them both trying to tell me it was for the better, and it still hurts everytime I see a family with both parents there. Those of you parents that think that it doesn’t effect children are full of it, at least try therapy or give your kids some notice before you divorce. After your divorce, you better make sure that both parents are around often, so they don’t have to be stuck with one with the other visiting all the time.
Don’t lie to yourself,saying it will be ok, think about your KIDS first….look at my story, look at me.

the truth is there are worse things in life than suffering through your parents divorce. i fit the statistics in this article down to a T, having just lived through the second divorce of my mother. i DO harbor alot of resentments towards both my parents and step parents but i do not feel that DIVORCE is solely responsible. the fact of the matter is that as a parent you are bound to screw your kids over inspite of, and sometimes because of, your very best intentions (think of your own parents?!) all anyone can do is their best, and if you are leaving a marriage knowing that you have done the very best you could, then your child will one day be able to understand.

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