Table of Contents
Objectives of the study
This paper focuses upon the importance of parents in the upbringing of the child. A major event such as their divorce, the children are affected the most which can result in child’s emotional problems, suicidal thoughts, stress and trauma. Parents’ separation become a reason for the child not to get attention, the bond he used to share with his parents gets weakened which leads to a communication distance where a child is no longer able to talk to anyone. Alongside, their education is also affected. There might be chances in which they can indulge in inappropriate acts including the use of drugs and alcohols or sexual activities.
Marital tie binds two genders together in a relationship where they spend their lives together. The vows they make are for their upcoming future. However situations might become too horrible to face and that martial tie that binds them together results in the ugliest way possible which tend to part both of them. It does not only leave its effect on the partners but as well as their children and children are the ones getting affected the most by the decision of divorce which almost change their entire life. The society in which we live in sees marriage, divorce and relationships this way. As said by Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture, “No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”
“Marriage and divorce are both common experiences. In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50. Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems” (2016).
“Divorce introduces a massive change into the life of a boy or girl no matter what the age. Witnessing loss of love between parents, having parents break their marriage commitment, adjusting to going back and forth between two different households, and the daily absence of one parent while living with the other, all create a challenging new family circumstance in which to live” (Pickhardt, 2011).
Conflicts leads to arguments and fights. Whereas, fighting in front of the children can also have a great impact on child’s upbringing. As children in their learning age, observe and absorb almost everything they see, seeing their parents quarrel can greatly influence on child’s mentality that how others should be treated when conflicts arise. “Yesterday's adaptations are today's routines,” Ronald A. Heifetz. When parents try to convince the child for their divorce, the child penetrates in a stressful situation being unable to understand what he should be doing for his parents so they may not leave each other. There might come a point where the child can actually start blaming himself for their separation without even knowing the reason behind them being divorced. Since the child feels connected to his parents by seeing them together, a thought of divorce can disturb him mentally. As divorce results stressful for the child, it also increases the probability that he may suffer from psychological problems in his present and future as well. In the state of great confusion and depression, trying to find solace, the child can indulge in illogical acts. Their social circle may also get affected by the daily way of interaction. Troubled children are likely to develop problems of anger, disobedience and violence which can have a major impact in their school achievements.
“Although children between the ages of about 6 to 8 continue to have fantasies about reconciling their parents, they are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce. Children at this age have been found to experience intense grief over the loss of not having one of their parents living with them. The older child (ages 9 to 12) is better able to understand their parents' divorce. They are likely to consciously express their disapproval and tend to take the side of one of their parents” (Jamison, 2001).
The researchers have chosen this topic because children are the tomorrow of any nation and any harm to their upbringing would affect the entire nation itself.
Objectives of the study
Objectives of this research are:
1. Ways in which parents’ divorce impact their children.
2. Solutions to minimize the aftermath of emotional and social stress.
Research questions of this study are:
1. How the divorce affect the upbringing of children?
2. How children are emotionally and socially challenged?
3. How their education is affected?
The researchers in this paper have laid a research design to study the effect of divorce that children are facing in the society.
The research design consists of the different methods through which data is collected. For the study at hand, research is employed which includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis, along with primary and secondary research methods. Survey method is selected in order to practice against the issue of divorce in families mainly effecting their children which is unfortunately common in our society and also to authentically conduct the study without letting the study biased. For primary research, questionnaires and interviews were conducted as tools. However, articles were referred as secondary research.
Interviews have provided qualitative analysis of the topic, whereas the topic was further taken forward by secondary research. The results of the questionnaires have provided quantitative analysis, allowing the topic for further analysis.
Two research tools, questionnaires and interviews were considered. The interviewees and respondents of the interviews and questionnaires respectively, were not restricted within the premises of Lahore School of Economics (LSE). However, they were conducted within the city of Lahore.
Thirty-five questionnaires were distributed, which helped in conducting a poll from people of different age brackets in the society, starting from twenty to fifty onwards. The questionnaires consisted of nineteen questions; five demographic and fourteen Likert scale. Questionnaire focused on the opinion of people about the effects of divorce on their children. The Likert scale questions helped in comparing the results more vividly.
Two people were interviewed for further knowledge about the issue. The interviews were informal and had structured questions. The first interviewee was of a divorced female parent named Aisha (name changed), who got separated after few years of her marriage and had no children.
Second interviewee was of a child named Musa (name changed) whose parents got divorced when he was in his late teens. For the interviews, appendices shall be referred.
For this research paper, Thirty five number of respondents, both males and females of different areas of Lahore were asked to fill the questionnaires and two interviews were taken. One of the divorced female parent in Johar Town and the other child named Musa in Gulberg, whose parents got divorced, were an access for the interviews.
For the scrutiny of variables stated in questionnaires, bar graphs, line graphs and pie charts were used. While qualitative data was obtained from the interviews, conducted by the members of the research team.
Language barrier was faced during the interviews and the interviewees were uncomfortable with the video interviews. A number of interviewees answered irrelevantly. Questionnaires were filled hastily and half-heartedly by the respondents due to lack of interest and time.
The research was limited within the premises of Lahore. Also, only two few interviewees were considered due to lack of time and resources. One interview was discarded due to irrelevancy and long answers.
‘Is divorce harmful to children?’ this is one of the most frequently asked questions in the past two decades about the family life. This is a very important question to be answered but before that, it is to be examined that what factors contribute to children having difficulties because of divorced families. In 1991 Amato and Keith examined the results involving 13,000 children and the result showed that children in divorced families are on ‘average’ in fact worse than the children who live in married families. These children have much difficulty in school, have behavioral issues, and have trouble in getting along with friends and family. A more recent update of the findings indicates that this pattern continues in more recent research (Amato, 2001).
The children who experience the divorce of their parent are more likely to be depressed and they act very differently. “It is well documented that psychosocial stressors constitute a significant, pervasive risk for children’s mental health problems” (Velez, 2011, 244).
Divorce can have both physical and mental effects on children. The physical health and mental health effects of divorce on the children are very well documented in many researches. Divorce or separation causes higher levels of stress, fear, depression and as well as lower self-esteem. One thing to be considered is that the children who are affected by divorce or separation of their parents visit the professional health care providers like general practitioners, specialists, and psychiatrists.
While the parents are going through the divorce, the actions of the parents not only affect the complete childhood of the children but also affect their adulthood. “It is well documented that parental divorce is associated with multiple problems for youth that extend into adulthood, including internalizing and externalizing problems, interpersonal difficulties, poor physical health, and substance abuse” (Sigal, 2012, 150).
Parents play a vital role in the lives of the children and the act of divorce then have a huge impact on the child’s attitude and emotions. The bond of the children is stronger with the parents when they receive more positive attention and support. This stronger bond then leads to have much stronger relationship within the entire family. “Because parents select into divorce, the factors that lead parents to end their marriages also may affect children negatively, resulting in spurious associations between divorce and child outcomes” (Amato, 2014, 371).
Paul Amato (1993) stated that there are several types of risks that cause difficulties for the children. These risks are:
1. Parental Loss: The custody war causes the children to lose the contact of any one parent and this is the reason that they lose the emotional attachment and are then deprived of the love and affection of that parent
2. Economic Loss: another major problem that arises is of having less economic resources as compared to the children who are living with married parents.
3. More Life Stress: after the divorce not only the parents but also children have to deal with a lot of things such as changing schools, homes etc. Furthermore, they have to adjust with the changes in the relationships with the friends and extended family members. This is a stressful process for children and especially for the ones who are quiet and reserved.
4. Poor Parental Adjustment: the mental health of the parents influences how the children cope in families. Divorce is a big trauma for the parents and for the children as well.
5. Lack of Parental Competence: parents play a vital role in the development of the children but this is only helpful when both the parents live in harmony. But following the divorce the competence of parents has a greater impact on the children.
6. Exposure to Conflict between Parents: every other family has to deal with conflicts and it becomes a more frequent part of families which have faced divorce. These conflicts then affect the well-being of the children.
Children from divorced families have difficulties facing the world, but the question arises is that what particular factors are causing these differences. From the previous researches it suggests that the stress, economic difficulties, loss of contact with parents, inter-parental conflicts lead to difficulties. Our research will carry further the findings on how children are emotionally, socially challenged and how their education is affected. Moreover it will be researched that what can be done to reduce the stress and depression of the children.
Role of parents in upbringing of children
Parents provide the foundational role of support, nurturance, and guidance for their children. That role includes the fundamental right to direct the child’s upbringing ( (Pediatricians, 2013). They need to fabricate a strong establishment for their children with the goal for them to have a fruitful and compensating life. The establishment should be worked at an early age, and needs to continue being worked all through the youngster's initial puberty. The foundation of an individual can be separated into a few distinct parts, for example, ethics, religious convictions and training. Father and Mother play important role in a child’s mental, physical, social, financial and career development (Sharma, 2013).
The raising of children should start in the home. It is here that the foundations of a successful life can be laid and built upon (Awolugutu, 2016). Ethics are likely the most important part in an individual's life. They characterize appropriate from wrong and great from terrible. The parents truly need to center in around showing their kids ethics, since it will shape the character of the individual and help him to improve as a man. These ethics will control the tyke all through their lifetime. Parents can likewise impact the religious convictions of their child. This is additionally another critical thing for an adolescent to comprehend and learn. Religion may give the youngster somebody or something to go to when in a critical moment. It additionally will give the child a feeling of trust and confidence. Without trust and confidence, the kid may end up be losing and befuddling, and religion will ideally reveal insight into the correct way and settle on better life choices.
Parents have a holy obligation to accommodate the essential needs and security for their children. They should guarantee kids get everything required for their legitimate enthusiastic advancement. Youngsters ought to be urged to carry on with an ethically clean life. They ought to soak up such ethics as diligent work, trustworthiness, respectability, regard, resilience, tolerance, lowliness, pardoning, love and the need to live quietly with others. Parents need to take care of child’s physical and mental health by providing them with good and healthy nourishment, enough sleep, love and attention and exercise for physical development. It is a parent’s responsibility to provide Children with activities and games that help develop motor skills and physical independence. Parents are the one who try to fulfill each and every financial need of their children no matter how they do it.
Increasing attention has been paid to the early childhood years as the foundation of children’s academic success. The importance of high quality learning environments, qualified teachers, and family engagement with early care and education programs have all been identified as critical factors in enhancing young children’s early learning experiences and their subsequent educational outcomes (Fasina, 2011). Parents should be completely involved with their children at least when they are too young. Involvement represents those parental activities that directly relate to children's academic, social, and emotional well-being. Parents provide the most direct and salient role models for their children's academic and social development. One of the most important factors in children's school success is how actively involved their parents are in their education (Butler, 2011). Furthermore, children of involved parents typically display higher levels of achievement, more acceptable behavior and greater motivation in school (Keith, 1999).Students who excel academically often have parents who are interested in their children’s learning from an early age and who engage in supportive learning activities, such as rhyming and shared book reading (Moore, 1998).
As long as parents play the most important role in a child’s upbringing, their divorce can cause multiple problems for their children. The rise in divorce has followed an international trend in the last few decades. From 1960 to 1980 alone, the divorce rate in industrialized nations has more than doubled (Emery, 2011). These socio demographic changes affect millions of children. The effects of divorce and separation may be particularly important for children under 4 as rapid developmental changes in the cognitive, emotional, and social domains take place in early childhood. Thus, disruptions in this period can have lasting consequences on the child’s well-being and adjustment in later years. It is estimated that eradicating the detrimental impact of divorce on children could lead to a 30% reduction in rates of mental health difficulties in young adults, a 30% decline in teenage pregnancies, and a 23% cutback in school dropouts (Emery, 2011). Numerous studies have found that parental separation and divorce is associated with a range of negative outcomes for younger children and adolescents across various domains. Parental separation/divorce is associated with academic difficulties, including lower grades and prematurely dropping out of school, and greater disruptive behaviors. Children and adolescents who experience the divorce of their parents also have higher rates of depressed mood, lower self-esteem, and emotional distress (D’Onofrio, 2011). Parental divorce is also associated with negative outcomes and earlier life transitions as offspring enter young adulthood and later life. Children of divorce are more likely to experience poverty, educational failure, early and risky sexual activity, non-marital childbirth, earlier marriage, cohabitation, marital discord and divorce. In fact, emotional problems associated with divorce actually increase during young adulthood. Understanding the magnitude of these problems and the causal mechanisms through which divorce influences these behaviors, therefore, has important social consequences (D’Onofrio, 2011).
The importance of both the parents in the upbringing of children can never be denied but what happens if parents choose to part their ways? The children are prone to a greater extent of emotional trauma that shatters them from deep within their inner self which reflects in their individuality and existence. Divorce is not an issue between the married couple but is a breakdown of the family that separates the child from the parents and harms their relationship (F.F. Patrick, A. Churchill, 2012). The separating couple fails to understand that their divorce will create a vacant space in the life of their children that can never be fulfilled. One parent cannot fulfill the responsibilities of the other parent nor can they give the same love and affection.
According to the responses of the questionnaires, it was found out that 17 respondents thought that it was difficult for a child or an adolescent to experience the divorce of his parents as a result of which their mental health deteriorate while, 14 respondents were neutral and had an unbiased opinion (graph A.1).
Moreover, the data from the questionnaire showed that mostly teenagers aged 16-20 are affected from the separation of their parents (graph A.2). It is these age groups where teenagers are not emotionally, psychologically stable and mature enough to handle such a big decision of their parents which will influence them directly. “There is no age group to which a child can handle divorce of his parents easily but older children tend to deal with the situation more intelligently as compared to the younger children. Children in their teens are more dependent on their parents and are effected the most. ” (from the interview conducted)
Kathleen O’Connell Corcoran (psychological and emotional aspects of divorce, 1997) highlights that the way a child can react to divorce of his parents is dependent on three factors:
- The relationship of child with his parents before the divorce
- The duration of the parental conflict
- The way parents emotionally handle their children during the divorce and how they take care of their children even after the divorce
If any of the parents maintain a healthy relationship with his children before the divorce, understand them and help them even after the divorce by giving them more attention and time, the children are less likely to suffer from any of the emotional damage. According to a study, teenage children of divorced parents are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year and have more psychological problems, then the child from which one of the parent has died.