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Divorce

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					The Effects on
  Children
 Many children today experience the breakup
 of their family and have to adjust to the
 unpleasant changes that follow
 In 2003, there were over 70,828 divorces in
 Canada
 Coupled with the high number of divorces is
 the early age that children experience their
 parents’ separation
   What are some factors that influence the
    way(s) in which a child is affected by a
    divorce?

   How do these factors affect the child?

   What are some ways to help children
    adjust to divorce?
    Research as shown that children from divorced
    families differ from those in intact families in
    that they have a greater risk of developing
    emotional, social, behavioural and academic
    problems, like:
     poorer adjustment
     academic problems
     involvement in delinquency
     anxiety and depression
     drop out of school
     low self-esteem
 suffering from stigma at school like being from
 a “broken home”
 economic deprivation, which leads to less
 educational opportunities (i.e. can not attend
 college/university, music lessons, camps, etc),
 limited access to basic necessities, and living in
 lower income areas
    The child’s behaviour prior to the divorce, and
    their personality and temperament:
      children who have an easy temperament are
       better able to cope with their parents’ divorce
       children with a difficult temperament often have
       problems coping with their parents’ divorce

   The custodial arrangement of the child
       research has shown that a child’s loss of a parent
       is far worse than a parent’s loss of a child
    The relationships between divorced parents and
    their parenting styles
       research has shown that when divorced parents’
       relationship with each other is harmonious and
       when they use authoritative parenting, the
       adjustment of children improves
 The impact of divorce varies with the age of
 the child
 Infants:
    • Although they do not have the cognitive ability to
      understand divorce, they are aware of how their
      parents are feeling and sense the turmoil
    • Parents are likely to be highly stressed during a
      divorce and cannot help but transmit this stress to
      their child
    • The infant is likely to have trouble sleeping and cry
      more often
   Toddlers:
    • They experience confusion
    • May regress to earlier behaviours like wanting their
     bottle back

   Preschoolers:
    • They are at a greater risk for the long-term
      consequences of poverty than older children
    • Poverty during early childhood years hinders
      cognitive and verbal development, which affects
      readiness to learn and future success
    • May become more clingy than usual, have more
      temper tantrums and experience sleeping disorders
   Young School-Age Children (ages 6 to 7):
    • Often feel that they are to blame for their parents’
      divorce and struggle with guilt
    • Act out of character, which can have serious
      consequences at school and lead to downward
      progression in school success

   Older School-Age Children (8 to 12):
    • Some may discuss the divorce with their peers, others
      may not
    • May hold feelings of anger and shame
    • Schoolwork may be the first to suffer after a divorce,
      and have the long-term consequences for future
      success
   Teenagers:
    • Added amount of stress and frustration from divorce
        coupled with puberty
    •   Turn to peer group for support and stress relief rather
        than parents
    •   May display frustration through delinquency or sexual
        promiscuity
    •   Adolescent girls are at particular risk of becoming
        sexually active and becoming pregnant
    •   Some may already have positive success at school, be
        well-established and continue this pattern
    •   May have a part-time job and not be so affected by the
        lowering of family income

				
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