Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

The Influence of Divorce on the Occupations of Primary School-Going Children in the Western Cape, South Africa: The Perspective of the Child and a Relevant Counsellor

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

The Influence of Divorce on the Occupations of Primary School-Going Children in the Western Cape, South Africa: The Perspective of the Child and a Relevant Counsellor

Article excerpt

Introduction

In general, there has been a number of studies over the years that propose that divorce has the potential to create turmoil in people's lives. Many theorists also agree that divorce is a stressful life transition needing adjustment for both the parent and/or child.

The literature has indicated that divorce is a major crisis for children (1). Divorce in South Africa has shown a steady increase of 2.9% since 1999, except for the year 2008 whereby it increased by 1.9% (2). Considering the information given about divorce rates, and the effects of divorce on children, there is a concern as to whether or not it has a negative impact on the occupational performance and development of children.

A study conducted by Allison and Furstenberg Jr. (3) in the United States of America, indicated that children who had experienced marital dissolution were significantly disadvantaged when compared to those children who did not experience divorce in their families, with respect to several measures of problem behaviour, academic performance, and psychological distress. Wallerstein (4) and Potter (5) indicated that children from divorced families showed poorer academic performance, and Potter (5) further explained that children in elementary (primary) school showed a decline in psychosocial well-being whereas secondary school children showed an incline with a further decline after two years post-divorce. Therefore, it could be argued that a study that explores the challenges that children from divorced families experience regarding their ability to engage in leisure and scholastic occupations would fill a logical void in the literature.

Literature review

Divorce, according to the South African Divorce Act 70 of 1979, is said to be the dissolution or legal ending of a marriage, which is based on one of two grounds, i.e. the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or the mental illness or continuous unconsciousness of one partner.

According to Emery and Kelly (6) and Tartarí (7), the media, mental health professionals and conservative political voices portray divorced families as having seriously flawed structures and environments. Whereas in-tact families were assumed to have a wholesome and nurturing environment for children. In a study conducted by Finchara and Grych (8), they indicated that children from divorced families may experience difficulty with social interaction and may struggle academically and these children scored lower in intellectual quotient (IQ) testing than children from non-divorced families. A study by Svedin and Wasby (9), also reflected that a decrease in academic performance and achievement was one of the most consistent outcomes associated with parental separation and divorce, and some research has proposed that children who have experienced parental divorce display a higher rate of referral to mental health services (8).

The educational consequences of divorce may have an effect on resource deprivation, it could be argued that parents' financial, human and social capitals are crucial to their children's educational success. However, along with parental divorce, children tend to become deprived of such parental resources (9). Storksen et al (10) stated that these children also lacked social support, which, as noted above, could be viewed as one of many parental resources.

According to Erikson, children in the stage of late childhood experience a crisis called industry vs. inferiority. These children work hard at being responsible, being good, doing their school tasks and engaging in social play (11). Erikson viewed these years as crucial to building up self-confidence as it is in these years that children are able to receive recognition from teachers, parents and peers for their good efforts in school(12).

The stage that follows is adolescence, which is explained by Erikson as identity vs. role confusion (12). Adolescent leisure activity has been shown to be associated with better life outcomes, academic performance, psychological well-being and a clear sense of self- identity, and in South Africa, teens are exposed to many risk behaviors, which could be associated with peer pressure. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.