When the family life becomes unbearable for a couple, it seems that, having divorced, they will immediately solve all their problems. However, having decided to take this step, the couple faces the whole bunch of new problems, and sometimes they are more significant than those being faced before. Both the first and sometimes the most important question that arises in this context for any more or less responsible parent – this is what way they should inform the child about the divorce and changes in their family life that are about to happen.
As the dissolution of marriage has become a common part of human life all over the world, the necessity of psychological and pedagogical studies in this field has appeared. This paper is aimed to research impact of divorce on children and reveal factors which cause both short- and long-term recovery. Two viewpoints about legal sepatation influence are represented among 6 printed sources in order to investigate the problem objectively in this work. Having examined this subject I may draw the following conclusions: many psychological problems in the family originate from the parents’ conflicts long time before the divorce itself; ability of children to cope with divorce process depends on their own stages of development to a large extent; pediatricians being a neutral third party play an important role in defusing conflicts between parents and assisting children to overcome the divorce process; the problem families should be involved in the group therapy or divorce mediation.
Do Children Always Suffer When Parents Divorce?
According to the majority of psychologists all over the world, upbringing the emotionally healthy children depends on their communication with both parents. Mentality of the children at any stage of development is vulnerable and tender, if concerning their parents, and after divorce, any child is left alone with his moral and psychological problems.
Bryner (2001) distinguished five stages of divorce: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In the denial stage, the children simply fail to believe that their parents, the adults who provide them with a safe home, shelter and food, could ever part. Denial is followed by anger, the second stage. Youngsters can be furious at their parents for not trying harder to stay together, for ruining their lives. Bargaining stage starts for children with trying to undo the damage by changing their own actions. If they get better grades, or quit fighting with their sibling, surely the absent parent will return home to stay. In the depression stage, juveniles are sad and tired every day at school and at home. Acceptance occurs when the children have gained the emotional experience to realize that the divorce was for the best and their parents are happier living apart.
Kleinsorge and Covitz (2012, p. 148) emphasized the importance of taking into consideration the developmental stage of the child in order to minimize the negative impact of divorce. The pediatricians also described the peculiarities of understanding of the divorce process by children at different ages. For example, infants cannot understand the concept of divorce, but they can notice changes in their environment. Babies may show signs of distress, which can take the form of fussiness or irritability. Toddlers will be aware of changes in parental presence and may increase annoyance. Preschoolers are better to understand that one parent is no longer living with them. However, they still may not understand the permanency of divorce. School-age children often blame themselves for the dissolution of their parents’ marriage. Changes in mood may be noticed, also sadness and anger. Difficulty with academic performance is common. School-age children need to be supported in maintaining relationships with both parents. Adolescents are better able to understand aspects of divorce. They may have problems accepting it, and may self-blame. Parents can ease the adolescent’s adjustment to divorce by being open to calm conversation about their teenager’s reaction to the changes in the family.
Bryner (2001, p. 204) stated that “in approximately 90 % of divorced families, the children remain with the mother”. In our society men are considered amateurs at nurturing, while women are the professionals. Bryner also admitted that “as the length of time from the divorce increases, contact with the noncustodial parent decreases”. Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) found that three of four children felt rejected by the noncustodial parent 10 years after divorce.
Hetherington and Kelly (2002) agree that divorce is a continuous process, beginning long before the separation and having consequences many years after. However, they disagree that disordered development of a child must follow. They believe that “the vast majority [of children of divorce] are adjusting reasonably well six years after divorce”. Despite the problems of stepchildren, second marriages in stepfamilies are actually happier in the earlier years of legal relationship than couples in long-established first marriages. Hetherington and Kelly (2002) also recognize that biological and predivorce issues may be crucial in the outcome, and that the problems of adults and children from divorced families may not be much different from those of intact families.
Cohen and Committee on Psychological Aspects of Child and Family Health (2002,) distinguished the importance of pediatrician’s role in the divorce process, and also admitted:
The pediatrician faces two preventive tasks: preserving the intact family when appropriate or decreasing morbidity related to separations that occur. Pediatricians can help parents to understand their children’s reactions and encourage them to discuss the divorce process with their children. Parents can be helped to answer the children’s questions honestly at their level of understanding. (p. 1020)
Hopefully, children can be told that each parent will not reject them. Pediatricians must acknowledge that a divorce is a procedure and not an occurrence. Therefore, actual periods of alteration during the divorce can require new adaptations on the part of children.
Parents of a child are the dearest and the most important people who making a decision to gift him a life, have taken the responsibility to protect him always and everywhere. However, life is too complicated, and sometimes even children are not able to preserve the seemingly ideal relationships of the married couple. Parents should realize that divorce is not only so desired freedom, but first and foremost, a real stress for their youngsters. Most psychologists agree that it depends completely on parent’s behavior whether the divorce process leaves the scar in the child’s vulnerable mentality.