Divorce, Family and Society
Marriage in the United States is no longer the lasting institution it once was. Every year over a million American families will experience a divorce and over half of the kids born this year will witness their parent’s divorce before they reach the age of eighteen. Although there may be some benefit for children stuck in abusive family situations, the effects of a divorce are usually physically, emotionally and financially negative for everyone involved. The experience of divorce, even a mutually agreed, uncontested divorce, ultimately wears down that basic building block of American society, the family.
More than just affecting the immediate family, divorce can have a profoundly negative effect on society as a whole. Statistics show that children who have gone through a parent’s divorce are more likely to become victims of abuse later in life. The numbers also show that children of divorced single parents have more health problems, behavioral issues, and emotional problems during their lifetimes. The children of divorce are also more likely to get involved in crime and drug abuse, and have a much greater risk of committing suicide than children raised in two-parent homes.
The wide range of negative effects is a drain on our society as a whole and the costs attached to them go far beyond just financial expenditure. The effects of a divorce can be a drag on both education and finances, as children from divorced parents have been shown to get lower grades, are more likely to fail a grade, drop-out more often and are far less likely to attend a college or university than children coming from non-divorce families.
It has been said that no one ever becomes richer due to a divorce. It’s far more likely the opposite is true though, as studies have shown that almost all families experience a drop in income following a divorce. Even worse is the fact that half of those families will eventually descend below the national poverty line after a divorce. Divorce can also have negative spiritual consequences too, since family church attendance has been shown to decrease dramatically after a divorce occurs. Active participation in a community church organization has been linked to better health and longer, stronger marriages, but with more divorce and less churchgoing, those advantages are nullified.
Our whole society suffers when fewer people get married and more people get divorced. It creates a situation where more people are choosing single parenthood or cohabitation over traditional two-parent family life in the first place. There is plenty of research showing that the two-parent family is the best environment to raise healthy, happy children. It has also been shown that the two-parent family unit is the most important institution for stability in society.
Reversing the current U.S. trend toward divorce is obviously a noble goal, but it will also require money to implement any substantial prevention programs. Today, the ratio of cash spent on the addressing the negative effect of divorce is about a thousand-to-one compared to the amount spent on the prevention of divorce. State and federal governments spend about $150 billion per year to bail out struggling single-parent households and only $150 million per year is spent on resources for pro-marriage programs. Reallocating funds to strengthen and preserve marriage by reducing the divorce rate has proven benefits for families and the nation as a whole. However, finding new money for pro-family, anti-divorce social programs could become a whole new problem in the current weakened economy.