Children of Divorce

Divorce is having a devastating impact on both adults and children. Over 1 million children in the United States experience parental divorce annually (Clarke, 1995). Although most children adapt well to this transition, approximately 20% to 25% develop mental health or adjustment problems twice the rate experienced by children from continuously married families (Hetherington et al., 1998). Meta-analyses of studies conducted between 1950 and 1999 indicated that children from divorced homes function more poorly than children from continuously married parents across a variety of domains, including academic achievement, social relations and conduct problems (Amato, 2001). They continue to be at risk for clinically significant mental health difficulties into adulthood (Chase-Lansdale et al., 1995; Zill et al., 1993), are more likely to receive mental health services (Zill et al., 1993), and have a shorter life expectancy (Tucker et al., 1997) than those who grew up in two-parent families. These divorces effectively cut one generation off from another. Children are reared without the presence of their father or mother. Children are often forced to take sides in the conflict. And, children often carry the scars of the conflict and frequently blame themselves for the divorce.

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