Trends of marriage and impacts of divorce on adolescents and children

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Introduction

Marriage in sociology refers to an institutionalized social structure that aims to offer an enduring framework for regulating sexual behavior and childbearing. In the ancient past as well as today, marriage is a very important social institution in the society. Marriage also serves essential religious roles since in the past it was a sacred ritual and in the present religious groups such as Christianity considers a wedding to be important religious events. Marriage plays a crucial role in the transition to adulthood, and also is the beginning of most families. Through childbearing and childrearing, marriage and families ensure continuity of communities. A wedding that mostly involves the joining of two partners also comprises of the acquisition of a whole set of duties and responsibilities and also several rights.

However, marital relationships between couples also comprise a complex set of social dynamics such as cooperation and conflict, different patterns of resource allocation and a division of labor. For instance, the amount of money a partner earns can shape the person’s relative power in the marriage. Different scholars have traditionally shown that the individuals with the highest educational and occupational level exercise the greater marital power, although it does not apply when wives earn more that their husbands (Andersen & Taylor, 2007). Therefore, it implies that gender also influences power with marriage. Marriage shapes systems of social stratification and has great influence to social interaction within people’s day-to-day lives. The values of partners and roles they play also influence the experience of marriage. Due to these varying influences and social dynamics, marriages can be romantic and intimate relationships and also may involve marital conflicts. Marital conflicts and stability get influenced by life events in a marriage and family such as job loss, the birth of a child, family commitments, and retirement and also social interaction with the family and with relatives and other external people. Marital conflicts and stability in the family may cause varying outcomes that include divorce.

Divorce refers to the legal termination of marriage by a court in a legal proceeding requiring petition or a complaint about divorce by one party. Although, divorce is more common and more acceptable in some parts of the world than in others, virtually all communities have provisions –communal, legal or religious – for dissolving marriages. There are various reasons for divorce that include unfaithfulness, unreasonable behavior, domestic violence, desertion, economic reasons, etc. (Moore, 2001). In the ancient past, divorce was not allowed among married partners, however in the recent past divorce rates have significantly escalated from zero in the early 1900s to around 2.2 in 2011. Nations, where divorce rates are extremely high, includes the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France and Japan. Studies show that in Canada and UK divorce rates have increased to more than fivefold since 1960, tripled in France and double in Germany and Sweden (Shepard, 2012). No society around the world that values the dissolution of marriage and in some communities the divorcees gets penalized through actions such as prohibitions against remarriage and paying fines. Various adverse impacts of divorce affect both the adults and children.  First, the roles and responsibilities of every member of the family get disrupted thus affecting the social interaction of the family. The role of caring for the family is abandoned as in-laws split up and become fragmented. Second, divorce also results in problems related to social security as the assets of the family get divided. Most of the times, the mothers get left with the responsibility of caring for the children, despite the aspect that their income may not be adequate to cope with caring for them. Also, the man may be unwilling to provide any support or may contribute too little to achieve an adequate standard of living for the mother and children. Third, divorce experiences for young children lead to a risk of suffering of a wide range of social problems such as psychiatric disorders and poor academic performance. These children are more likely to get engaged in drug and substance abuse. Miller, Ryan & Morrison (1999) estimates that by the time children in the United States turn 18, fifty to sixty percent have already got affected by dissolution or separation of marriages and families. Children suffer from stress that can extend up to eight years since initial separation due to issues such as child support, parental custody, loss of contact with a parent and visitation. Scott, Treas & Richards (2008) states that divorce experiences get widely linked to teenage pregnancy, poorer life outcomes and lower levels of accomplishment such as high health risks and psychological illnesses. The adults who experience divorce also experience effects such as adolescent depression. This disorder in adults usually gets attributed to economic hardships for one-parent households. Lastly, divorce also undermines social cohesion of family members due to lack of accomplishment of the functions of the family such as socialization, economic provision, emotional stability, identity and reproduction and sexual activity.

Problem Statement

Marriage is the foundation of a family which is a building block of the society. Divorce has a weakening effect on children and adolescent. Divorce cases have been rising in the society due to social and economic developments in the society. Children development and well-being are widely impacted by dissolutions of marriages and families. Indicators of changes in family dynamics in children include loss of confidence, poor academic performance, depression, stress and other psychological disorders. Adolescents respond differently towards family dissolution depending on their relationship with other family members as well as their attitude and acceptance towards the event. Female adolescents tend to be conscious in making long-term commitments in relationships and think that a potential partner cannot contribute to happiness loyalty, faith and love. Male adolescents, on the other hand, tend to get affected by their social and physical state and may have a low self-esteem or be more hostile or aggressive after a divorce experience. Parents and counselors can significantly assist children and adults in dealing with emotional needs associated with the dissolution of families and marriages. This study helps parents and counselors to identify the impacts of divorce on children and adolescents hence provide the required support.

Research Questions

This research aims at addressing the following questions:

  • What are the trends of divorce in marriages and families?
  • What are the impacts of divorce on children development and well-being?
  • What are the impacts of divorce on adolescents?

Method

The collection of data for the research got performed through undertaking a survey on a random sample comprising of tertiary students and high school students. It was estimated that the age group in high school and tertiary institutions is between 15 years and 25 years hence falling under the bracket of children and adolescents. The questions in the survey focused on divorce as a social problem and its impact on family members. Our independent variables of interest to the respondents are hence parental divorce and impact of divorce. Divorce got measured using the survey question “Have you directly experienced family or marriage separation?” The respondents of those whom parents divorced got asked of the year of separation so as to determine the trends today and also determine the years stayed since separation. The aspect of achievements and psychological disorders gets measured using a question that asks about their academic performance and other success. An approach technique was used to analyze the data acquired in the research. The research also covered on how the society contributes in assisting adolescents and children through the impacts caused by divorce.

Results

The data collected in the data collection methods got assessed to determine the trends of divorce and its consequences among children and adults. The study found out that 54 percent of the respondents had either separated in their marriages or were victims of divorced marriages. Divorce experiences led to drastic changes in the lives of the divorced persons as well as their children. Divorce affected a person’s psychological well-being and health, social interaction, and behavior. Most of the children who had experienced divorce at an early age performed poorly in academics and also found life to be extremely difficult in a single-parent household. Divorce experiences for both children presented a difficult time and also confronted emotions that include fear, decreased self-esteem and anger. Most of the children who experienced divorce also developed habits and behaviors that are immoral or harmful such as smoking and drinking. In most parent divorce cases, children and adolescents did not receive any assistance in the adjustment to divorce; hence underwent a hard and painful process.

Conclusion

The high divorce rates in the society in the today’s society were due to various causes that include domestic violence, adultery, changes in economic status and unreasonable behavior. Divorce leads to a psychological impact on children and development that affects their performance and success. Despite the high divorce rates, parents do not implement any strategies to assist children in easing their adjustment to divorce. Divorce occurs when children are at different ages but highly impacts those below the age of 16. The engagement in drug and substance abuse for children who got involved in divorce gets attributed to economic hardships due to single-parent family and also due to lack of parent monitoring, supervision and guidance. Parents divorce also gets attributed to long-term consequences among children and adolescents. The long-term impacts include psychological disorders and affect their future relationships. However, adolescents who perceive divorce as a learning experience could determine warning signs of marital conflicts and stability and hence avoid a similar reaction.

The research thus recommends parental education on how to assist adolescents and children in divorce situations to reduce the impact of the event on their lives. Also, divorce should get avoided in solving marital conflicts and stability since the family members have a bond and a relationship that gets broken hence leading to the psychological impact and well-being.

References

Andersen, M. L., & Taylor, H. F. (2007): Sociology: Understanding a Diverse Society, Updated. Cengage Learning.

Miller, P. A., Ryan, P., & Morrison, W. (1999): Practical strategies for helping children of divorce in today’s classroom. Childhood Education, 75(5), 285-289.

Moore, S. (2001): Sociology alive!. Nelson Thornes.

Scott, J., Treas, J., & Richards, M. (Eds.). (2008): The Blackwell companion to the sociology of families (Vol. 25). John Wiley & Sons.

Shepard, J. M. (2012): Cengage Advantage Books: Sociology. Cengage Learning.



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