Over the years there have been a plethora of studies and research projects designed to examine the effect of parental divorce on children. Researchers and health care specialists have tried to answer such questions as whether it is better for the children if parents avoid divorce even if it means living in a “bad marriage”, the classic example of “staying together for the children”, or if divorce is a better alternative for all involved. Is the effect of divorce more pronounced for younger children versus older children, or vice versa?
“When I was in fourth grade, my parents sat me down and told me they were getting a divorce. I remember saying, ‘OK’. . . just ‘OK’.” Years later as a high school senior, Jason vividly recalled the long repressed emotions of that abbreviated conversation, a conversation that remained etched in his memory. He was incredulous: “How could they have just accepted ‘OK’? What I wanted to scream was, ‘You’re wrecking my life,’ but I didn’t want to make my parents feel bad.”
Approximately 50% of the couples who marry today will end up divorced, and almost half of all children in the U.S. have seen or will see their parents divorce. In marriages that are empty, conflict-ridden, or even abusive, this is the right decision, but it is still only the better of two painful alternatives. The children, who have no control over the decision to divorce, are often the ones most affected by this decision to reorganize the family.