As I was sitting in a lecture the other day, my professor gave my class a nice reminder to be thankful for the people who raised us and taught us to be the people we are today. It made me think about how I have been blessed with rewarding childhood in a mostly happy household. I also began to realize how many people I know with divorced parents, and people who live in single parent households. How different their childhoods were and how different their lives could be because of this different living situation. It made me question how does a divorce really impact a family but more so their children?
The first thing I wanted to research when asking this question was how family life affects children. According to an article reviewing divorce and its effects on children, family is a strong determining factor to the building blocks of a child’s future. It can either leave a positive of negative effect on someone’s life. With this inference, I concluded the null hypothesis would be divorce leaves no significant affect on children, or the alternative hypothesis divorce can affect them among many areas. These areas include, trouble in school, bad behavior, and antisocial behavior, depression, and anxiety. All these outcomes then all have to be determined in short term and long term affects.
Through my research, I began to see a common trend between these two hypotheses. In an article by Scientific American, their research resides with the null hypothesis saying that only a small percentage of children suffer from serious problems as children or later as adults. I then found these “serious problems” are considered hard end points since they result in mental disorders, extremely troublesome behavior related with crime, or a future of unsuccessful relationships such as divorce.
In another source, they conducted an observational study of 99 college students who experienced a recent divorce in their families in the last 3 years. They asked the students various questions in which all conclude with “soft end points” effects as seen in the chart below.
These effects are very normal, according to Emory. They all deal somewhat with grief which is not a mental disability, it’s being human.
In another study in 2002, Psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington at the University of Virginia and a graduate student Anne Mitchell Elmore saw that in a short term time period of about two years, children can experience similar short end effects such as shock, anger, disbelief, and short term anxiety. Although, there was still a minority of children who continued to feel these effects and worse.
Since this minority of children is still a possibility, I found through research that this minority could possibly be children who are troublesome prior to divorce. These are the children that are likely to suffer from hard end point effects. These prior conditions although are confounding variables. Other confounding variables that can worsen effects are parent’s mood post-divorce, which means that cannot aid to the children’s needs, or if marital discord is first introduced to the children in the event of divorce, which can worsen their shock and other reactions. This is because children can be more resilient if surrounded by discord prior to divorce.
In conclusion, with this information which was very similar across many studies and sources, there are so many variables that cause the severity of effects which can result in a false negative since there still is something going on but scientists still conclude with the null hypothesis that there is nothing significant happening. But honestly, it may depend on the possible variables and specific details within different divorces families. With this, it’s very hard to draw an actual conclusion.
Although divorce can be a very tragic and traumatic happening within family life, it is very possible and hopeful parents and children can recover and live happy lives. I can’t say this is true at all from my lack of experience, but I know that with tragedy comes a new enlightenment and room for improvement for a better future.
http://emeryondivorce.com/how_divorce_affects_children.php -source and picture credit