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Outcomes of Divorce on Children: Infants to Adults


Divorce is no doubt a horrifying tragedy for children of whichever age to face. Regardless of the cause for the divorce, may it be an abusive situation, children suffers greatly. What may appear to be a solution to a problematic matrimony, can change the life of a child forever. These different age groups will encounter varying emotions and problems.

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Infants and toddlers cannot put their feeling into words. However, they do know that something is not working properly. Parents may time and again feel stressed or angry with the spouse, unaware that this impacts on their children. Consequently, infants might cry a lot and this will even affect their sleeping patterns. This is so because children are scared of the uncertainty that goes around them. Toddlers might even convey it more by directing their anger on other children or by demonstrating increased temper tantrums more than usual. They will reveal changes in their mood and may portray regression at some point. Infants and toddlers need routine security. They feel secure in knowing what is subsequent. It is very essential that parents realize this and strive to maintain normalcy throughout this stressful crisis.


A wide collection of evolving problems has been observed in children of divorce. According to Warshak (1999) children from divorced families records high incidents of learning and behavioral disorders occurring as a result of factors such as a lack of parental guidance, discipline, and presence during major developmental stages in life. In addition, this may be partly due to lower social economic status and lack of education thus limiting financial as well as educational resources as viewed in the sociological perspective. Children coming from the divorced households have always had poor relations with their mothers and fathers. Interaction in the family as a whole may incur a permanent communication deficit, since one parent will always prioritize providing for the family over family relations.

Children growing in divorced homes usually have minimal contact with the non-custodial parent a thing that deteriorates child-parent relationship as time goes. In return, a gap is left in the parentage serving as the relationship template pattern for relationships in the future life. On reaching adulthood, children of divorce have indicated problems in relationships as well as in their psychological well-being and relationships (Warshak, 1999). Children growing up in an environment of high parental conflict are most likely to figure their own relationships as troubled.

Parent-Child Relationships

Various psychological theories associated to parental modeling for instance the one set forward by Kirk (2002) propose that parents have a tendency of modeling nearly every behavior in their children. Feelings of nervousness towards marriage are partly as a result of experiencing parental divorce and recalling the pain it caused to the child. As observed in the modeling theory, it appears practicable that feelings of resentment or distrust divorcing parents encounter may be spread to their children and could also carry into adulthood(Hoffman & Ledford, 1995).

According to Hoffman & Ledford (1995) constructive relationship with one of the parents’ impacts negatively to the relations with the other parent following separation, this may mostly occur as a result of one parent’s character of negatively portraying the other parent making the child believe whatever he/she is told. Children may be forced to favor one parent in the event of internal family conflict, however the total time spent with one parent contributes negatively to the association with the other following parental separation (Hoffman & Ledford, 1995).

Research indicates that, children from divorced homesteads tended to exhibit more passionate feelings towards their parents as compared to those children from intact families. These attitudes could be accredited to growing fear of loss and abandonment that comes with parental divorce, which is thus compensated by more attachment to the left behind parent or even to the primary custodian. This increased attachment could most likely assume the form increased resentment or anger directed towards the ‘missing’ parent.

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Evidence from research has established that those children from households with increased rate of parental conflict or those who were at a tender age when their parents’ divorce are most likely lacking trust in marriage and/or suffers constant marital conflict in their marriages (Kirk, 2002). Childhood is a very essential stage in child’s growth and development; hence if parents divorce in the early years of a child’s life the child is possibly going to miss some significant models of development. Besides, the younger the child during divorce in the household, the more susceptible he/she may in forming misrepresented beliefs as to the nature of the parents’ divorce. Most children may be inclined to noticeable feelings of responsibility and guilt for the absence of a parent as a result of divorce.


Divorce appears to be a cyclical trend. Projected 40 percent to 50 percent of children born in the United States in the 1990’s encountered parental divorce (Kirk, 2002). Women who encountered divorce have a higher divorce rate (60 percent) than their counterparts; whilst men from divorced families have a higher divorce rate of 35 per cent as compared to men who are from intact families (Warshak, 1999). It thus appear clear that individuals from divorced families are likely to be divorced themselves, conveying a notion that marital dissolution is rather acceptable. Amato (2000) states that adult children from divorced households are less optimistic about achieving life-long marriage and assess divorce less negatively as compared to other young adults.

Work Cited

Amato, P.R. (2000). Parental Divorce and Attitude Towards Family Life. Journal of Marriage and Family, 50, 453-461.

Hoffman, C.D.; Ledford, D.K. (1995) Adult Children of Divorce: Relationships with their mothers and Fathers prior to, following parental separation, and currently. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 24, 41-57.

Kirk, A. (2002). The Effects of Divorce on Young Adults’ Relationship Competence: The Influence of Intimate Friendships. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 38, 61.

Warshak, R. (1999) The Custody revolution: The Fatherhood Factor and the Motherhood Mystique. NY: Poseidon.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Outcomes of Divorce on Children: Infants to Adults'. 13 November.

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