Listen to any child of divorce and their stories and you begin to understand the far-reaching implications of divorce. Where some good reasons do exist for the dissolution of marriage, many many more reasons support the need for couples to work out their differences and stay together. Not that we are advocating staying in a toxic marriage “for the sake of the children”, but there are many problems within a marriage that can be resolved through marriage counseling. Though children of divorce are the smallest victims of this highly traumatic life event, they are not the only ones affected. Our entire society is effected by divorce as it has long-term implications on a variety of societal characteristics. Each member of the family feels the effects of divorce in very different ways and imprints their experience on their community in the following ways:
Contrary to belief, men are more emotionally effected by divorce than their female counterparts. Because they are more likely to depend only on their spouse for support, they are more vulnerable when that support is gone. Men are also more likely to not be the custodial parent and that disruption of parental bonds can be detrimental to men more so than women. Men remarry more quickly than women and are generally better off financially than their ex-spouses, though they tend to view divorce more negatively and tend to work harder to attempt to save their troubled marriage.
Women are more likely to initiate divorce than men, and those that choose to dissolve their marriage often suffer financially from it. Studies show that 60% of people under the poverty line are divorced women and their children. Because 90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children, government support resources are strained. Women experience less emotional stress than do men as they are much more likely to view the end of the problems as a relief. They also find new roles in their lives to be enjoyable and experience an increase in self-esteem. They do however still bear the weight of societal stigmas when they work and leave small children in child care; where men often find compassion and support when under the same circumstance.
Where previous studies greatly exaggerated the effects of divorce on children, they too experience levels of stress that can be long-lasting. Of course, the change in household income has a direct consequence on children’s daily lives and often impacts nutrition, medical needs, extracurricular activities and even school choice. With children that enjoyed a home life where a parent was stay-at-home, the adjustment to child care and less parental time can be a tough one. The addition of step-parents or step-siblings can also be a life-changing event and in the case of parental withdrawal, where a parent decides not to continue their role in their child’s life, physical, mental and emotional effects can be expected.