Stable Marriages & Single Parents
Whenever researchers study the effects of divorce on a family, they usually discover two main components, with the first being that divorce puts an end to any positive effects a functioning marriage might have had on the lives of the family. The second component is that divorce is usually the result of pre-existing marital conflicts. The benefits of a healthy marriage come from the emotional, social, and physical bonds formed in a secure relationship. Studies have shown married people have less depression and alcoholism, and lower mortality rates. A functional marriage will promote health and confidence and a distressed marriage will not. Unhappy marriages can increase psychological problems and have also been associated with an increase in physical problems like cancer and heart disease. Women suffer more psychological harm than men due to the stress of childrearing; however children might suffer the most harm in a divorce.
A divorce is a temporary crisis that will pass with time for most adults, but for children, a divorce can be a situation that seems to have no end. After living a secure life with two parents, the changes related to living with only one parent can easily lead a child into depression. Even in families where marital strife is obvious, a divorce can be a surprise to the children. Many times the ability of a child to respond to a divorce depends on the age and maturity of the child the child as well as the ability of the parent with custody to help them adapt. If they fail to adapt quickly, the resulting stress has been associated with increased childhood depression, poor social skills, general health problems, difficulties in school as well as a variety of other problems.
Divorce can have a negative impact on a family’s financial status as studies have shown that most welfare in the United States is currently distributed to single-parent homes. This points to the sad fact that most of the children in this country that live below the poverty line are in the care of unmarried or divorced parents. Recent research studies have shown that the number of children living in single parent households has risen from around 20% in the 1960′s up to almost 50% today. The numbers reflect estimates that half of all marriages in the U.S. now end in divorce. For low-income, urban families, the number could climb to nearly 60%.
This shift in American family structure has had some real consequences for children. Children from divorced families are less likely to go to college or even earn an average salary as adults. When a child experiences a divorce it can undermine their sense of lifetime marital commitment and doubles the chances that they will experience social, emotional or psychological problems. Instead of dropping out of school and leaving the home early with low job skills, children from two parent homes have better physical and mental health and are twice as likely to remain married as adults themselves. The fact that boys from single parent households are twice as likely (compared to kids from two-parent households) to be convicted of a serious crime before they reach age 30 is a shocking example of just how serious the negative consequences of a divorce can be.
The only choice for children in high-conflict households where abuse is a threat may physical separation, but the belief that children would be better off than if they lived in dysfunctional, but intact families, is false. Moderate marital discord in the family does have negative effects on children, but the effects of divorce are usually worse than if the family had remained together and the parents tried to work out their problems. When a child’s normal daily routines and attachments are suddenly altered it can have a powerful effect on their sense of well-being due to the sudden loss of familiar surroundings. When the security of the home and relationships with friends and neighbors are removed and replaced with uncertainty and fear, children can feel like they have been abandoned and left alone to face the world by themselves.
Divorce can have serious negative consequences for single parents as well children, especially for women. Nearly one quarter of recently all divorced mothers end up living below the poverty level in the United States today. Divorced women are also more frequent victims of violent crime than their married counterparts. A stable marriage results in higher incomes, better relationships and longer life spans. A stable marriage will also direct a husband’s attention away from dangerous or criminal activities and focuses their activities on the marriage and the family. It is obvious that a stable marriage is better for everyone involved than a divorce. Two parent households deliver benefits that single parenting cannot match. This means it is important that we try to strengthen the institution of marriage whenever possible because divorce has been shown to have such negative consequences for all of society.