Written by Iyore Enadeghe

So many persons think of divorce as a panacea for every marital ill, only to find out when they tried it, that this remedy is worse than the disease. Divorce in any circumstance, rips a child apart, tossing him/her from one house to another, limiting time spent with his/her parents, and confusing him/her. There are very few reasons that would prove to be more beneficial for the parent to leave than to stay and endure his/her marriage. Usually, it is more advantageous to children if their parents work through their differences rather than get a divorce.

By any definition, divorce is a horrible word. There is no way to make a word sound better or make its effect less painful. According to the Webster’s Dictionary, divorce is “the legal dissolution of marriage or the termination of an existing relationship or union” (Webster 370).

This definition makes the word seem formal and does not accurately display the feeling that sweeps over a person when the word is mentioned. A better definition of the depth of the word comes from Whitney, holding a child’s point of view, “Divorce is like a thousand knives being thrown at one’s heart or a slow, painful ride through Horror mountain. Her definition more accurately describes the feelings and emotions that go along with the mention of divorce. To them, divorce is much more than a legal dissolution, it is their whole world being torn apart and thrown on the ground in pieces.

One of the biggest problems that divorce imposes on children is the decision to whom to live with. Usually, parents divorce when children are small and the children have no say in where they go. Since the child cannot choose, this leads to custody battles that end in split custody or joint custody. Whatever the choice maybe between the two types of custody, either will prove detrimental to the child.

When split custody is the decision, it forces a child to choose (or the court to choose) one parent to live with, and it limits the quality time the child spends with either parent. When the child only lives with one parent, the ties with the other parent are severely damaged. Since the children don’t see both parents often, the parent with whom the child lives is usually thought upon as strict and no fun because that parent is always there and is always responsible for disciplining the child.

The non residential parent is more often viewed as the fun, exciting one that the child longs to be with. This parent many time showers his/her child with presents, and money is used in an attempt to buy the child’s love. The child, although often spoiled, does not usually feel the deep security of having a close family, since he/she is constantly moving from house to house. Because of the constant movement, the child does not generally receive quality time from either parent, and it makes it more difficult to feel loved. Joint custody is even worse on the child because there is even more movement involved. With split custody, the child goes to the non residential parents house on a certain schedule.

A divorce hurts all the family members, especially the children. Very young children do not understand what is happening, but they fell the loss of one of the parents not being ground.

Pain however, is something that goes away. The memories stay, but memories are not always on your mind. They only pop up when you think about it. Some people cannot let go negative feelings and emotions and keep them alive. By doing so, they keep on feeling mistreated, misguided and pitiful. The feelings prevent them from focusing on positive things and on a new future. Usually, if they become aware of the vicious circle they are in, or when somebody else makes it clear to them, the suffering stops.

A divorce is a life changing events for children. It turns their world upside down. They do not understand the divorce very well. All they know is that everything is different. They have many questions: Where do I go to school? Will the other parent still be around? Did I contribute to the divorce? Will I live with my brothers and sisters in the future or will they live with the other parents?

Generally, it is better for children to suffer a bad marriage than to cope with divorce. According to University of Michigan Psychologist and divorce expert, Neil Kalter, the misery of an unhappy marriage is less significant than the changes after a divorce. The children would rather their parent keep fighting and not get divorced. Although, this does not seem logical it shows that children want their parents together at all costs. Also, contrary to popular belief, the alternative to most divorces is not life in a war zone.

Parents, the potential home, the unconditional love between the parents is something children believe in. Your break-up does damage the self confidence of your children. Especially, children between 5 and 10 years old are vulnerable. In the beginning, children thinks the worlds ends when their parent announce their divorce. Children also wonder what their friends think of it, will my class mates see me as a looser because of the divorce?

There is a correlation found between children of divorce and social skills. Expert suggest children of divorce have more difficulties trusting other people unconditionally. They tend to have less social contracts. Especially, young children tend to cut social relationships after the divorce. Later in life, this can result in having difficulties building intimate relationships.

Children from divorced families are more likely to have academic problems, be more aggressive and get into trouble with school authorities or the police. When elaborating on children negative effects of divorce in academic achievement we need to look at children’s grade, standardised test scores or dropout rates.

Children whose parents divorce generally have poorer scores; children’s actual performance on tests consistently shows this difference, but results based on teachers or parents reports are less likely to show this difference as both parents and teachers often underestimate the difficulties the child may be having in school or may not recognise the problems. In some cases, it appears that children’s difficulties with school may be caused more by their behaviours than their intellectual abilities.

In the vast number of divorces there is no strife or violence that could ruin a person’s childhood, the divorce is usually driven by a quest for “greener grass”. These divorces almost always make the child worse off and create a number of unnecessary problems for the child. If parents will concentrate harder on working conflicts out, rather than their own personal happiness, the children will be much better off.

It generally proves to be more beneficial for a child if his/her parents stay in an imperfect marriage rather than getting a divorce. The various activities that are involved with divorce severely damage a child. The child lacks a sense of belonging and becomes very confused. Therefore, when a person gets married, he/she needs to think long and hard to make sure that this is the right choice for him/her and for possible children that may come along one day. The person needs to make sure he/she does not settle for a person he/she can live with, he/she needs to wait for the person that he/she cannot live without.

About the Author

CRACO is an NGO that is committed to making the Child included and visible. We ensure that matters relating to children are not swept under the carpet but brought to the attention of the world, so that necessary actions can be taken to address such matters for the best interest of the the children. We keep you regularly informed of news and stories concerning children and women around the world.

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