Impact of divorce on children

In 1990, 16.8 per 1000 children under 18 years of age were involved in divorce. It is estimated that more than one-half of American children are now likely to experience the dissolution of their parents’ marriage by the time they are 18. One third of children born during the 1980s are predicted to live in a stepfamily before 18. In studying how these children of divorce fare as adults, Glenn and Kramer (1985) analyzed eight years of the NORC General Social Science Surveys and found that on eight indicators of psychological well-being (e.g., happiness, health, and satisfactions with life activities) that female children of divorce scored as adults significantly lower on six measures and males lower on three. Click here for an analysis of the long- term effects of parental divorce on children.

In Lewis Terman’s famous longitudinal study of gifted California children (n=1,521), begun in 1921 with follow-ups every 5 or 10 years, it was found that those whose parents divorced faced a 33 percent greater risk of an earlier death (average age at death=76 years) than those whose parents remained married until the children reached age 21 (average age at death=80). According to Dr. Howard Friedman, who did the analyses, there was no such mortality effect for children whose parents had died (cited in Daniel Goleman. 1995. “75 Years Later, Study Is Still Tracking Geniuses.” New York Times [March 7]).



One Comment

  1. annmariefww
    Posted March 19, 2008 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I think it is very important that we do studies like this and examine the effects divorce has on children. It is very hard nowadays to find someone who has either not been directly effected by divorce or knows someone who has. My parents are not divorced but my childhood best friend’s parents divorced when we were very young, I’d say about 10, and she took it very hard. Her parents had a nasty divorce and she was caught right in the middle and I hate to say that she became very withdrawn and depressed and now, 15 years later, she has never fully recovered. I work for, it is an online community of support and help for women navigating through the various stages of divorce and life thereafter. We have focused a lot of attention and research on this topic because we are aware of it’s importance, and it hits very close to home for me. People need to be aware of this and take steps to ensure that the process and transition is addressed for the children as well.

    Just my two cents
    Ann Marie

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