Raising Your Child's Inner Self-Esteem: The Authoritative Guide from Infancy through the Teen Years

By Karen Owens | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Changing Family
Lifestyles

Divorced Families

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: When there are children in the family, parents should stay together even if they don't get along. In the 1950s a majority would have agreed; however, in the 1990s, the majority would probably disagree. During the past few decades, Americans have come to place a greater value on personal satisfaction and self-fulfillment. The rise of personal fulfillment as the main criterion for evaluating marriages is due to two developments: the weakening of religious and other moral constraints and the demise of the breadwinner-homemaker family. It is estimated that one out of every ten children will experience two divorces of the custodial parent before the child turns 16 years old.

The divorce rate, although high, has reached a plateau. What impact does divorce have on children? It appears that the initial period of divorce and parental separation is profoundly difficult for all children. Even when parents have been caught in severely unhappy marriages, their children usually do not want the divorce to occur and suffer as a result of it. In recent years, researchers have moved away from viewing divorce as a static event that has pathogenic effects on children. Rather, current investigators are viewing divorce as a process of events. They are focusing on the diversity of children's responses prior to, during, and after the dissolution of marriage and on the factors that facilitate or disrupt children's adjustment during the parents' marital transition. There are several factors that appear to relate to whether children adjust to their parents' divorce with their self-esteem intact: children's age, the quality of the ex-spouses' relationship, custody arrangements, the quality of the parent-child rela

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