Reversing the Trend
This year, over 1 million American families will have some experience with a divorce. Half of the children born to married couples this year will experience their parent’s divorces before they turn 18 years old. When you talk about the effects of divorce on the family, you are primarily talking about the negative physical, emotional, and financial effects that divorce has on children. The divorce experience, even a mutually agreed one, wears away at the fundamental unit of American society, the family.
Divorce has a profoundly negative effect on society overall. Children who have experienced their parent’s divorce are more often the victims of abuse later in life. Children of divorced single parents have more serious health problems, behavioral issues, and emotional problems during their lifetimes. They are also more likely to be involved in crime and drug abuse, and present a greater risk of suicide than children in two-parent homes.
The devastating effects touch on education and finances too, as children of divorce statistically get worse grades in school, are more likely to fail a grade or two, drop-out more often and are less likely to attend a college than children of non-divorce families. Most after-divorce families also experience a large drop in total income and half of those families will eventually descend into poverty after the divorce. Active participation in a community church, once considered a bright spot in the social terrain of the family because it promoted better health and longer marriages, is now also a casualty of divorce because church attendance has been shown to drop after a family splits up.
The family foundation of society is growing weaker as fewer people are getting married, more people are getting divorced, and more people opt for single parenthood or cohabitation in the first place. It is a fact that a two-parent family is the best environment to raise healthy, happy children who can achieve their goals in life. It is also clear that the family is the most important institution for stability in a society. It might take action on both state and federal levels to reverse the current trends and refocus our culture on keeping marriage, and ultimately our families, intact.
Reversing the trend will also require money. Right now, state and federal governments spend about $150 billion per year to help single-parent households and only $150 million per year on resources for pro-marriage programs. The ratio of cash spent on the effects of divorce is a thousand-to-one compared to the amount currently spent on the prevention of divorce. Reallocating funds to strengthen and preserve marriage by reducing the divorce rate would be good for families and the nation as a whole.