Divorce hurts Children, a million more in the U.S. a year

Divorce hurts children: “Each year, over a million American children suffer the divorce of their parents. Divorce causes irreparable harm to all involved, but most especially to the children. Though it might be shown to benefit some individuals in some individual cases, over all it causes a temporary decrease in an individual’s quality of life and puts some “on a downward trajectory from which they might never fully recover.”1

Divorce damages society. It consumes social and human capital. It substantially increases cost to the taxpayer, while diminishing the taxpaying portion of society. It diminishes children’s future competence in all five of society’s major tasks or institutions: family, school, religion, marketplace and government. The reversal of the cultural and social status of divorce would be nothing less than a cultural revolution. Only a few generations ago, American culture rejected divorce as scandalous. Today, law, behavior, and culture embrace and even celebrate it….”

The Effects of Divorce on Children
Patrick F. Fagan and Aaron Churchill
January 11, 2012
Original text and bibliographic references at https://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A22.pdf

Excerpt from the report:

C. Weakened Father-Child Relationships
Contact. Divorce leads to a decline in the frequency and quality of parent-child contact and relationships,25 and it becomes difficult for non-residential parents, 90 percent of whom are fathers, to maintain close ties with their children.26 For example, children spend significantly more nights with their mother than their father.27 Nearly 50 percent of the children in one study reported not seeing their nonresident father in the past year, and the small number that had recently stayed overnight at the father’s residence did so for a special visit, not as part of a regular routine.28 An analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households29 found that about one in five divorced fathers had not seen his
children in the past year, and fewer than half the fathers saw their children more
than a few times a year.30 By adolescence (between the ages of 12 and 16), fewer
than half of children living with separated, divorced, or remarried mothers had
seen their fathers at all in more than a year, and only one in six saw their fathers
once a week.31

Contact with the father declines over time after a divorce, though this pattern is
less pronounced the older the child is at the time of the divorce.32 Daughters of
divorced parents were eight percent less likely than their peers in intact families to
have frequent contact with their fathers, and sons of divorced parents were 20
percent less likely.33

Emotional Closeness and Well-being. Children’s relationships with their parents worsen after a divorce.34 Marital disruption creates distance between parents and children,35 even compared to children living in married but unhappy families.36 Divorced parents also report significantly diminished satisfaction with their former spouse’s relationships with their children,37 though parental divorce tends to affect the relationship of the child and the opposite-sex parent more than the child and their parent of the same sex.38

divorce hurts children, by creating distance between parents and children; even compared to children living in married but unhappy families.

Separation and divorce create distance between parents and children; even compared to children living in married but unhappy families.

Divorced fathers, especially non-custodial fathers, do not fare well with their children. Children report more distant relationships with their fathers,39 and fathers report “a more negative change in their relationships with their children than [do] custodial mothers.”40 The pattern of worsening relationships after the breakup holds for both sons41 and daughters,42 and more conflict during the divorce process increases the likelihood of distance between the father and his children.43 However, as time passes after the breakup, conflict between father and child decreases. Additionally, older children typically experience less conflict with their nonresident fathers than do younger children.44

Divorce leads to a decline in children’s ability to trust their fathers,45 which does
not bode well for the lifetime happiness of divorced children. Young adults who
feel emotionally close to their fathers tend to be happier and more satisfied in
life, regardless of their feelings towards their mothers.46 However, children and
adolescents who do feel close to the father following a divorce experience better
outcomes.47

Children from divorced families receive less emotional support from their fathers
than children from intact families.48 Divorced fathers are less nurturing,49 and
more likely to drift away from younger children if denied legal custody at the
time of the divorce.50 Nonresident fathers also “have considerably less opportunity
to influence their children’s attitudes and behavior,”51 a reality of which the
implications this paper will attempt to explore. Ultimately, the proportion of
children who enjoy a consistently close relationship with their father is much
higher among adolescents whose parents remain married (48 percent) than among
those whose parents divorce (25 percent).52

Persisting Effects. Boys, especially if they live with their mother, respond with
more hostility to parental divorce than girls do, both immediately following the
divorce and for a period of years thereafter.53 Girls often fare worse than boys
when living with their father or stepfather after a parental divorce.54 By the time children, particularly daughters, attend college, their affection for their divorced
father wanes significantly.55

D. Weakened Grandparent-Grandchild Relationships
Divorce negatively affects grandparent/grandchild relationships…. (Continued… read PDF file)
____________
More at dads & things and at Fathers for Life about children of divorce

 


References (excerpted references; only those that are pertinent to the excerpt quoted in this blog posting)

  1. Paul R. Amato, “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children,” Journal of Marriage and Family 62 (2000): 1269.
  2. William S. Aquilino, “Later-Life Parental Divorce and Widowhood: Impact on Young Adults’ Assessment of Parent-Child Relations,” Journal of Marriage and Family 56 (1994): 908-922.
    Alan Booth and Paul R. Amato, “Parental Pre-Divorce Relations and Offspring Postdivorce Well-Being,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 63 (2001): 210.
  3. Brad Peters and Marion F. Ehrenberg, “The Influence of Parental Separations and Divorce on Father-Child Relationships,” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 49 (2008): 96-97.
    Alan Booth and Paul R. Amato, “Parental Marital Quality, Parental Divorce, and Relations with Parents,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56, no. 1 (1994): 27.
  4. I-Fen Lin, Nora Cate Schaeffer, Judith A. Seltzer, and Kay L. Tuschen, “Divorced Parents’ Qualitative and Quantitative Reports of Children’s Living Arrangements,” Journal of Marriage and Family 66 (2004): 389-390.
  5. Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr. and Christine W. Nord, “Parenting Apart: Patterns of Childrearing after Marital Disruption,” Journal of Marriage and Family 47 (1985): 893-904. Note: Eight percent of the children whose fathers were nonresident had never-married (as opposed to married and then divorced or separated) fathers.
  6. This is a federally funded survey of 13,000 respondents conducted by the University of Wisconsin in 1987-1988, 1992-1994, and 2001-2003.
  7. Judith A. Seltzer, “Relationships between Fathers and Children Who Live Apart: The Father’s Role After Separation,” Journal of Marriage and Family 53 (1991): 79-101.
  8. David Popenoe, Life without Father (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1996), 31. Popenoe reports on the findings of The National Survey of Children.
  9. Judith Seltzer, “Relationships between Fathers and Children Who Live Apart: The Father’s Role after Separation,” Journal of Marriage and Family 53 (1991): 79-101.
  10. Teresa M. Cooney, “Young Adults’ Relations With Parents: The Influence of Recent Parental Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and Family 56 (1994): 45-56.
  11. Paul R. Amato, “Children of Divorce in the 1990s: An Update of the Amato and Keith (1991) Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Family Psychology 15 (2001): 355-375.
    Yongmin Sun, “Family Environment and Adolescents’ Well-being Before and After Parents’ Marital Disruption: A Longitudinal Analysis,” Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (2001): 697-713.
    Paul R. Amato and Bruce Keith “Parental Divorce and the Well-being of Children: A Meta-Analysis,” Psychological Bulletin 110 (1991): 26-46.
  12. Alice Rossi and Peter Rossi, Of Human Bonding: Parent-Child Relations Across the Life Course (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1990). As cited in Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, A Generation at Risk, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 69.
    Juliana M. Soboleswki, “Parents’ Discord and Divorce, Parent-Child Relationships and Subjective Well-being in Early Adulthood: Is Feeling Close to Two Parents Always Better than Feeling Close to One?” Social Forces 85 (2007): 1105-1124.
    Alan Booth and Paul R. Amato, “Parental Predivorce Relations and Offspring Postdivorce Well-being,” Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (2001): 197-212.
  13. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, “Consequences of Parental Divorce and Marital Unhappiness for Adult Well-being,” Social Forces 69 (1991): 895-914.
  14. Paul R. Amato and Alan Booth, “A Prospective Study of Divorce and Parent-Child
    Relationships,” Journal of Marriage and Family 58 (1996): 361.
  15. Alan Booth and Paul R. Amato, “Parental Marital Quality, Parental Divorce, and Relations with Parents,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56, no. 1 (1994): 28.
  16. Rosemary Dunlop, Ailsa Burns, and Suzanne Bermingham, “Parent-Child Relations and Adolescent Self-Image Following Divorce: A Ten Year Study,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 30 (2001): 117-134.
  17. Marsha Kline Pruett, Tamra Y. Williams, Glendessa Insabella, and Todd D. Little, “Family and Legal Indicators of Child Adjustment to Divorce Among Families With Young Children,” Journal of Family Psychology 17, no. 2 (2003): 174.
  18. Nicholas Zill, Donna Morrison, and Mary Jo Coiro, “Long Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-child Relationships, Adjustment, and Achievement in Young Adulthood,” Journal of Family Psychology 7 (1993): 91-103.
  19. Constance R. Ahrons and Jennifer L. Tanner, “Adult Children and Their Fathers: Relationship Changes Twenty Years after Parental Divorce,” Family Relations 52 (2003): 340-351.
  20. Janet Johnston, “High Conflict Divorce,” The Future of Children (1994): 165-182.
  21. Judy Dunn, Helen Cheng, Thomas G. O’Connor, and Laura Bridges, “Children’s Perspectives on Their Relationships with Their Nonresident Fathers: Influences, Outcomes and Implications,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 45, no. 3 (2004): 559.
  22. Valarie King, “Parental Divorce and Interpersonal Trust in Adult Offspring,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (2002): 642-656.
  23. Paul Amato, “Father-Child Relations, Mother-Child Relations and Offspring Psychological Well-being in Early Adulthood,” Journal of Marriage and Family 56 (1994): 1031-1042.
  24. Paul Amato and Joan G. Gilbreth, “Nonresident fathers and children’s well-being: A metaanalysis,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (1999): 557-574; Valarie King and Juliana M. Sobolewski, “Nonresident fathers’ contributions to adolescent well-being,” Journal of Marriage and Family 68 (2006): 537-557. Both as cited in Mindy E. Scott, Alan Booth, Valarie King, and David R. Johnson, “Postdivorce Father-Adolescent Closeness,” Journal of Marriage and Family 69 (2007): 1194.
  25. Heidi R. Riggio, “Parental Marital Conflict and Divorce, Parent-Child Relationships, Social Support, and Relationship Anxiety in Young Adulthood,” Personal Relationships 11 (2004): 106.
  26. Seth J. Schwartz and Gordon E. Finley, “Fathering in Intact and Divorced Families: Ethnic Differences in Retrospective Reports,” Journal of Marriage and Family, 67 (2005): 207.
  27. Yoram Weiss and Robert J. Willis, “Children as Collective Goods and Divorce Settlements,” Journal of Labor Economics 3 (1985): 268-292.
  28. Judith A. Seltzer, “Legal Custody Arrangements and Children’s Economic Welfare,” American Journal of Sociology 96 (1991): 898.
  29. Mindy E. Scott, Alan Booth, Valarie King, and David R. Johnson, “Postdivorce Father-Adolescent Closeness,” Journal of Marriage and Family 69 (2007): 1201.
  30. Martha J. Zaslow, “Sex Differences in Children’s Response to Parental Divorce: Two Samples, Variables, Ages, and Sources,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 59 (1989): 118-141.
  31. Martha J. Zaslow, “Sex Differences in Children’s Response to Parental Divorce: Two Samples, Variables, Ages, and Sources,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 59 (1989): 118-141.
  32. Teresa M. Cooney, Michael A. Smyer, Gunhild O. Hagstad, and Robin Klock, “Parental Divorce in Young Adulthood: Some Preliminary Findings,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 56 (1986): 470-477.
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