Effects of Divorce Term Paper

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It is estimated that over one million children in the United States are victims of parental divorce each year, and half of all children born in wedlock this year will see their parents divorce before they reach their eighteenth birthday (Rector pp). Robert Rector points out that divorce generally reduces the income of the child's primary household, and for families that were not poor before the divorce, the drop in income can be as much as 50% (Rector pp). According to reported 1994 data by Mary Corcoran, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, "During the years children lived with two parents, their family incomes averaged $43,600, and when these same children lived with one parent, their family incomes averaged $25,300" (Rector pp).

Angela DeCuzzi reported in the December 01, 2004 issue of College Student Journal, the findings of a study designed to assess the effect of parental divorce and remarriage of college students on the relationship with their respective parents and on their own romantic relationships (DeCuzzi pp). The data revealed that respondents whose parents were divorced and remarried reported being less happy and less close to both their mother and father than respondents whose parents were still married (DeCuzzi pp). Moreover, students whose parents were divorced were more likely to avoid short-term relationships (DeCuzzi pp).

According to the 2003 Statistical Abstract of the United States Bureau of Census, there are approximately six million divorced families in the U.S., some 60% of whom have children (DeCuzzi pp). In 2002, the American Council on Education and University of California reported that roughly 26% of first year college students report that their parents are separated or divorced (DeCuzzi pp). "Extrapolating to the 16 million college students in the U.S., over four million college students have parents who are separated or divorced," says DeCuzzi (DeCuzzi pp).

There has been considerable research on the effect of parental divorce on offspring, and previous researchers have revealed that parental divorce is associated with "diminished psychological, social, and physical well being, one's own divorce, and reduced commitment to marriage" (DeCuzzi pp). While other research has concluded that approximately 75-80% of children and young adults do not suffer from major psychological problems, including depression, and have achieved their education and career goals, and retained close ties to their families (DeCuzzi pp). Moreover, they enjoy intimate relationships, have not divorced, and do not appear to be scarred with immutable negative effects from parental divorce (DeCuzzi pp).
DeCuzzi's study found that students of parental divorce were more unhappy if their divorced parents remarried, compared to students whose parents were still married (DeCuzzi pp). Thus, it seemed that the happiest students were those whose parents were still together, next were those where one parent had remarried, and lastly, those students where both parents had remarried (DeCuzzi pp). It is commonly believed that many children of parental divorce "hold out hope that maybe their parents will get back together and they will be a family again," hence the remarriage of both parents dooms forever that possibility which may reflect the lower level of happiness (DeCuzzi pp). The study also revealed that students of parental divorce were more likely to "get in and stay in relationships longer than those whose parents were married" (DeCuzzi pp). Therefore, it is possible that experiencing parental divorce was so traumatic that it "sensitized the students to maintain their own romantic relationships" (DeCuzzi pp). Thus, marriage for these students may provide an experiential basis for the complexity and difficulty of marital relationships, as well as provide a secure relationship in which to move beyond the fallout they may have experience during their parents' divorce (DeCuzzi pp).

Although parental divorce is a stressful experience for children of any age and majority of children exhibit short-term developmental disruptions, emotional distress, and behavior problems, according to Hilevi Aro in the September 22, 1994 issue of Adolescence, "the age at the time of parental divorce has been found to affect the child's short-term reactions to the separation" (Aro pp).

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