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Kassidy Clark

Mrs. Thomas
UWRT 1102-007
18 April 2016
April 5th: For some reason I had a really hard time getting started on my
thesis paper. I was just drawing a blank on how to best begin my paper and
organize the information. Even though I didnt have a full eight-page thesis
today, I feel that I got the main ideas of my paper down and now have
something that I can build off of. I hope to receive feedback on this in my
small group conference. I know that I still need to incorporate the in-text
citations. Im waiting to finish revising my paper before I incorporate them
because Im not sure if I will change the information I include or the order
that it is presented in.
April 6th: I received a lot of valuable advice from my small group. After
discussing the format of my paper with Mrs. Thomas and my peers, I now
see that there are some changes that I can make to the organization of my
paper to help the flow of information and to create anticipation for the
reader. I also received advice on different information that I could
incorporate. Kalie suggested that I could include how the transportation from
moms house to dads house to meet living arrangements could cause stress
to the child. This advice will not only make my paper more thorough, but will
help me add length to my paper as well.
April 17th: I feel that I have constructed a very thorough and well thought
out thesis paper. I incorporated a lot of the advice that I received in my small

group conference and feel that it has made my paper much stronger. I
covered a lot of information, but it was all relevant to my topic and flowed
together seamlessly. I am very proud of what I have constructed, but I also
know that there is undoubtedly room for improvement still. I hope to receive
comments on my paper during class and make improvements as needed.

Divorce and Children: A Curse or a Blessing?

When you think about divorce, what comes to mind? Responses could
vary from the anxiety and depression that stem from the adjustment to a
new lifestyle to the financial burdens that accompany the costs of lawyers
and child support. Merriam-Webster formally defines divorce as the ending
of a marriage by a legal process. Regardless of what definition you
associate with the term, one topic that will almost certainly come to mind is
the effect that the dissolution of marriage has on children. Often you will
hear families stressing to potentially separating parents to stay together for
the kids, but is this necessarily the best thing for those involved? Through
careful analysis of the work of many trusted scholars as well as several
personal testimonies, many factors of divorce will be explored. These factors
include the history of divorce as well as the ways in which divorce impacts
the children involved, both negatively and positively, not just during the
divorce but throughout their entire life.
Divorce has a rich and turbulent history. With the frequency with which
divorce occurs today, it is hard to believe that this institution has not always
been as commonplace as it is in todays society. Divorce laws have
progressed over time alongside ideas regarding gender roles, economics,
and morality (Engel). From as recently as the 19th century, people were wary
about separating and rightfully so. During the colonial days, the church held
vast amounts of power. Marriage was seen as an institution of the church

and, because of this, was viewed as a lifetime commitment. Only in
instances involving severe mistreatment would the church grant a mensa et
thoro, which enabled married individuals to live separately but never to
remarry. In 1857, the Matrimonial Causes Act was passed. This act opened
the realm of divorce, which was previously only available to royalty and the
wealthy, to the common person. With the passage of this law, men were able
to petition the court for a divorce by providing proof of their wives
adultery. Women, on the other hand, were only able to divorce their
husbands if they were able to prove not only that their husband had
committed adultery, but that there was some other form of mistreatment
involved as well, such as abuse or incest. This inequality was short-lived,
however. Huge social changes followed World War I, especially for women,
who were now provided with many opportunities for advancement. Although
the opportunities presented to women were extremely unequal to those
presented to men, the progression was enough to spark a change in divorce
law. In 1923, the Matrimonial Causes Act was reformed and gave men and
women equal divorce rights. Over time, this law was frequently amended and
led to the institution that we know today. It is apparent that divorce was a
very trying process and one that was commonly avoided due to all that was
involved. Clearly, this is not the case today (A Brief History of Divorce).
The rate of divorce in America today is a staggering 50%, meaning that
every marriage has the same chances of lasting as we do flipping heads or
tails on a coin. This rate only increases as the number of marriages increase,

with second marriages having a 60-67% chance of ending in divorce and
third marriages having a 70-73% chance. The United States Census
estimates that out of the 40,000 documented families with children in the
United States as of 2015, 25,000 are married couples (Figure FM-1. Families
with Children under 18.). The saddening statistic is that 40% of these
nuclear families will experience divorce. Sandra Mayberry, a family law
attorney from San Diego, California, insists that it is crucial to be well
informed regarding what factors increase the chances of divorce. Mayberry
describes divorce in America today as an epidemic that has stemmed from
a recent shift in marital values. Long gone are the days of the ideal nuclear
family. Today, more and more married individuals are beginning to yearn for
a life of independence and exploration that they feel cannot be achieved
alongside a spouse. Whether it be because of this new-age mentality,
feminist ideals, or something as simple as incompatibility, the number of
divorces is clearly on the rise (The Divorce Epidemic | Why 50% of
Marriages Fail). But what are the implications of this surging divorce rate for
the children involved?
Said to be a watershed event, the repercussions of divorce and the
changes that accompany it are felt throughout the entire life of those
involved, though the changes vary with age. In the article The Impact of
Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents, Dr. Carl Pickhardt, a well
published author, graphic artist, and psychologist, explores the ways in
which divorce affects children through the dependence of childhood and the

angst of adolescence. When divorce strikes a family with younger children
who are typically more dependent on their family unit, their sense of trust
can be severely shaken. A once stable and organized home turns into an
unfamiliar and precarious environment. The child may often be plagued by
ideas that this new, unfavorable situation is only temporary and that
someday things will return to normal. Children may also begin to doubt their
parents love for them as a result of witnessing the loss of love in their family
and begin to wonder why they are an exception. As a result, children may
revert back to almost infant-like behaviors such as bed-wetting, clinginess,
and throwing tantrums to gain the attention of their parents and attempt to
reunite them once more.
Divorce affects adolescents in a very different way. Where the young
child strives to focus their parents attention back on them, an adolescent
will form a new sense of autonomy. In addition, where the young child might
make attempts to bring their parents back together, the adolescent will
make attempts to get back at their parents for the divorce. In the words of
Dr. Pickhardt, The more independent-minded adolescent tends to deal more
aggressively to divorce, often reacting in a mad, rebellious way, more
resolved to disregard family discipline and take care of himself since parents
have failed to keep commitments to family that were originally made.
Adolescents tend to react aggressively to the changes facing their family in
an attempt to regain control. They begin to focus more on their own selfinterest because, in their mind, the only person that they can rely on is

themselves. This stems from the feeling of disconnect that is experienced.
Adolescents begin to develop a mentality that, because their parents are
incapable of taking care of the family, they should begin to be self-reliant
and take care of themselves (Pickhardt).
The effects of divorce can extend well beyond the time closely
surrounding the separation. Through her research on adult children of
divorce, Dr. Constance Ahrons discovered that divorce can still be very
influential over the lives of the children involved at least twenty years after
the split. Dr. Ahrons conducted a study in which 173 adult children were
interviewed twenty years after their parents divorce. Dr. Ahrons concluded
that the quality of the divorce can have long-term effects on many aspects of
the childs life. Many of these effects stem from the amount of cooperation
between parents. If a child has more cooperative parents, he or she is more
likely to have positive relationships with other family members. Several
participants felt that, despite being mature adults and having families of
their own, they still wanted their parents to cooperate. When parents refuse
to get along, these children are often placed in loyalty conflicts, in which
they are often forced to choose between one parent or the other. This conflict
can lead to fragmented relations, as many feel that they have to maintain
two separate lives between their parents. This also poses a problem when it
comes time for parental figures to come together for major milestones in
their childs life. Many reported that it was very uncomfortable to have both
parents present at an event, as there is always the chance for ill relations to

come to the surface and create tension or conflict (Ahrons). Divorce can also
have a long term impact on how these adult children view relationships.
Studies show that those who come from divorced families have a greater fear
of being hurt or rejected and have a greater distrust of intimate
relationships. These feelings have been statistically proven to increase the
chances of divorce in these children (Gumbiner).
Of the families in Dr. Ahrons study, about 95% had experienced
remarriage in their family. Views regarding the remarriage vary vastly,
however. More than half of the research participants felt that their parents
divorce was more stressful than the remarriage while one third felt that the
remarriage was more stressful. The majority of participants stood in
solidarity over one topic, however. Two thirds of children who experienced
the remarriage of both parents recall their fathers remarriage as being more
stressful than their mothers as a result of changing father-child relations. As
far as living situations, many reveal that the amount of time they spent at
one parents house versus the other had little impact on their life overall. In
the long run, the most influential factor was the emotional atmosphere that
was created by their parents relationship (Ahrons).
There are many ways that those involved in these childrens lives can
help them adapt to their new lifestyle both during and after the divorce. One
of the primary aids to these children are their educators. During such a
turbulent time where many aspects of their lives are changing, many
children begin to see school as a place that provides stability and support.

Children often view their teachers as stable individuals who are concerned
with their wellbeing. It is important that educators remain available to these
children while still being observant of any mental health or behavioral
problems. It is also critical that the teacher inform parents of how their
divorce is affecting their childrens academic performance and how they can
best help the children cope at home. Educators also play a pivotal role in
educating children regarding divorce. Clinical psychologist Dr. Joanne PedroCarroll maintains, Children need to understand that they did not cause, and
cannot solve, the problems between their parents. But many children and
teens develop serious emotional difficulties because they somehow believe
they are to blame. You may be in a position to help uncover those feelings
and lead children to a more accurate understanding of the changes in their
family. Many children tend to hold themselves responsible for the events
that have happened in their family. By educating children about divorce and
some of the reasons that couples may get divorced, educators may be able
to help alleviate some of these feelings of guilt and blame (Pedro-Caroll).
Many believe that children of divorce are required to experience
depression, lack of success, or negative future relationships. In some
instances, these ideas hold true. In the majority of cases, however, once
children overcome the initial shock of the separation, many adapt to their
new lifestyle. Going beyond merely adapting, many children actually
experience positive benefits from their parents divorce. Living in a tense,
unhappy household is unhealthy for anyone, especially children. When

children begin to view their parents as happier individuals, they in turn
become happier as well. Witnessing a divorce also models for children that
everyone deserves a chance to be happy and that the relationships that one
is involved in have a significant impact on ones quality of life.
Dr. Shoshana Bennett explores these and several other potential
positive effects of divorce in her article Divorce and Kids: 5 Ways Divorce
Benefits Kids. Dr. Bennett clearly holds a view that divorce primarily affects
the parents involved imploring your newfound single life after divorce is
what you make it---and your childrens attitude and well-being will follow
suit (Bennett). In many ways, I agree with Dr. Bennetts claim that the
adults involved are ultimately in control of what experiences stem from their
divorce and what life after divorce will be like. The environment that a child is
brought up in will undoubtedly affect his or her attitude. I do feel, however,
that feeling as though a child should simply follow suit to his or her wishes
post-divorce is a selfish mentality to have. As Dr. Ahrons states, When
parents remarry, they often believe that their happiness in their new union
will be shared by the children they each bring with them, followed by the
ideal that their separate units will blend together easily as family. When
children do not meet these expectations, it can create disappointment and
distress for all family members (Ahrons). I feel that Dr. Ahrons is stressing
how critical it is that parents maintain realistic expectations for their children
throughout the divorce and that they realize that their children are enduring
very complex life changes.

Science has proven that there are many positive benefits of divorce for
children. Sometimes, however, the most influential claims are not those that
are filled with scientific explanations and terminology. In Carolin Lehmanns
article 7 Things You Learn from Growing Up with Divorced Parents, several
individuals from the HuffPost blog community stepped forward to share their
personal testimonies regarding the silver lining of divorce. One of the most
striking testimonies was captioned: I learned its never too late to change
and live a happier life. The testimony read, I was 8 when my parents
divorced, and I knew as soon as they sat me down they were going to tell me
they were getting divorced. There was always a lot of arguments. While it
devastated me and forever shaped how I viewed relationships, I was better
off after divorce. It made me grow up faster and become independent. After
my moms second divorce a few years ago (after an even longer marriage
than her first), she showed me its never too late to change and live a
happier life as a single person. She is more like a teenager now than ever
before and she is enjoying every second of it (Lehmann). As a child of
divorce myself, I can attest to the beliefs of this blogger. This testimony
thoroughly sums up the feelings that surround divorce. Yes, divorce is a
trying experience, but the experience paves the way for self-realization and
many positive benefits for both parents and children. Among the other
testimonies were claims of being more independent, the lack of fear of being
single, gaining a bigger family, learning that it is never too late to be happy,
and the development into a more empathetic person. These accounts force

us to realize that although divorce can be a traumatic experience, it is
ultimately a matter of the amount of effort put in. If both the parents and
children work together and remain positive and cooperative, there will
undoubtedly be positivity that stems from the difficult time.
Through my research, I have found that there are a variety of sources
pertaining to, not only the effects of divorce on children, but the effects of
divorce on the lives of all involved. Many of these sources state various facts
and make differing claims. For many, this could very well lead to confusion
and difficulty sorting what is true from what is false. It is imperative that we
remain knowledgeable regarding divorce as to be understanding and
compassionate of the situation that those going through a divorce are in.
This understanding comes from education. Whether divorce is impacting
your family immediately or the family of someone you know and love, it is
always helpful to educate yourself about the effects of divorce and what you
as a friend, family member, or divorcee can do to make the process easier.
As divorce slowly becomes a household term, it is up to us to eliminate the
stigma that comes with the term and help people realize that, sometimes,
divorce just might be a blessing in disguise.


Works Cited
A Brief History of Divorce. Cambridge Family Law Practice. N.p. 18 April
2012. Web. 17 April 2016.
Ahrons, Constance R. Family Ties After Divorce: Long-Term Implications for
Children. Family Process 46.1 (2007): 53-65. Web. 14 March 2016.
Bennett, Shoshana. Divorce and Kids: 5 Ways Divorce Benefits Kids.
Huffington Post. N.p. 18 March 2012. Web. 15 March 2016.

Engel, Margorie. The History of Divorce: How It Continues to Affect You.
Flying Solo. N.d. Jan Warner. Web. 6 April 2016.
Figure FM-1. Families with Children under 18. United States Census Bureau.
US Census Bureau. N.d. Web. 11 April 2016.
Gumbiner, Jann. Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones. Psychology
Today. Sussex Publishers. 31 October 2011. Web. 11 April 2016.
Pedro-Carroll, Joanne. Eight Ways Teachers Can Help Children When Their
Parents Divorce. Dr. Joanne Pedro-Carroll. Joanne Pedro-Carroll. N.d.
Web. 28 March 2016.
Pickhardt, Carl E. The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and
Adolescents. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 19
December 2011. Web. 11 March 2016.

Lehmann, Carolin. 7 Things You Learn from Growing Up With Divorced
Parents The Huffington Post. N.p. 28 March 2016. Web. 29
March 2016.
The Divorce Epidemic | Why 50% of Marriages Fail. CNN iReport. N.p. 8
August 2014. Web. 17 April 2016.