Just the Facts – Exploring The Dark Side of Divorce

Wayne —  April 1, 2011 — 3 Comments

imageSeveral months back, I started a series on the effect of divorce on kids and what the Bible has to say about divorce. Before we get further into the series, I thought it made sense to step back and look at some of the statistics related to divorce in our country – statistics which betray the fact that divorce has become all too common and the effects of divorce devastating.

“Many studies have documented the effects of divorce on children and almost all of them have concluded that children of divorced parents suffer from both immediate as well as long-term emotional and psychological problems.” 5

Consider the following, and reflect on what it means for kids in our society today. These statistics are not hard to find. In fact, I did a simple Google search on children of divorce and found these. The original source is noted after each statistic (I have paraphrased some of the statistics and quoted others). I have not, for purposes of this article, gone to back to each original source to verify the information.

Statistics on Divorce in General

  • One half of all children in America will live through the break-up of their parents marriages. Nearly half of those will also see the dissolution of their parents’ second marriages as well. 1, 3
  • Of those children who have seen their parents’ divorce, a full 10% will see three or more marriages of their parents terminated. 1
  • As many as 40% of kids today are growing up in a family where the father is absent because of separation or divorce. 5
  • The US National Center for Health Statistics indicates that at least one million children every year from 1972 to 1990 were part of divorcing families. 5
  • 20-25% of married men report infidelity at least once. 4
  • Couples therapists report 50% of their caseload is in therapy due to infidelity (AAMFT). 4
  • Pittman and Wagers offer that 90% of first-time divorces have involved infidelity, mostly during the last year of the marriage, and it often was hidden throughout the divorce process. 4
  • 20-25% of mediation groups say an affair was a reason, but the reason given by 80% is deterioration of intimacy. 4
  • In the 1970’s, 70% of men and 40% of women had affairs, but modern studies show men and women under 45 were equal. One study at a Boston hospital showed through blood typing that 30% of the named fathers of babies born there were not biologically related to the child. 4
  • Another 20% of couples have "emotional affairs" or infidelity where there is no sexual contact (so no adultery), but a disruption in the emotional intimacy of the couple (internet affairs go here). 4

The Inter-Generational Issue

  • Only 60% of adult children of divorce get married. 50% marry before the age of 25, and most marry people they have only known for a short time. Among adult children of intact families 80% marry. 4
  • 40% of children of divorce who do marry eventually end up in divorce. In other words, only 36% of adult children of divorce are happily married. Among adult children of intact families only 9% divorce. In other words, 73% of children of intact families are happily married. 4
  • Personal problems (self-report of being easy to get angry, hurt, or jealous; showing poor money-management skills; having had an affair) were twice as likely in marriages in which both partners’ parents had divorced compared to marriages in which neither partners’ parents had divorced. 4
  • In marriages 0-4 years old, chances of divorce increased 87% if wives had a history of parental divorce, 620% if both partners did. 4
  • In marriages 5-10 years old, chances of divorce increased 41% if wives had a history of parental divorce, 160% if both partners did. 4
  • In marriage 11+ years old, history of parental divorce was not a significant predictor of divorce. 4

The Long-Lasting Effects of Divorce on Kids

  • “A study in 1980 found that less than 10% of children had support from adults other than relatives during the acute phase of the divorce.” 7
  • “15% of children interviewed at the 10 year follow-up point in a 15 year study showed significant effects from taking on the role of holding a custodial parent together psychologically.” 7
  • Up to 66% of the women between 19-23 that were interviewed during 10 years post-divorce had a resurgence of anxiety, fear, guilt, and anger that they had suppressed for many years. These feelings tended to resurface when the adolescent and young adult women were attempting to make major life decisions (such as marriage). 7
  • “Laumann-Billings and Emery (2000) report that young adults in the early 20s who experienced the divorce of their parents still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorces ten years later.” 8
  • Studies “found that post-divorce difficulties become most severe when the children of divorced parents reach adulthood, as their search for lasting commitment moves to center stage.” 9

Fatherlessness

  • 4 in 10 children in America today are being raised in a home without a father. 1
  • Non-residential fathers see their kids on average 4 times per month following a divorce, and 20% of children have no contact with their fathers 2-3 years after divorce. 8
  • Children from fatherless homes are 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide. 2
  • Children from fatherless homes are 24.3 times more likely to run away. 2

Educational Effects of Divorce

  • Studies from the early 1980’s showed that children in repeat divorces attained lower grades. 1
  • Children of divorced parents are roughly twice as likely to drop out of high school. 1
  • Children from fatherless homes are 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders. 2
  • Children from fatherless homes are 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school. 2

Emotional Effects of Divorce

  • In studies from the early 1980’s, peers of children of divorces rated them as less pleasant to be around. 1, 3
  • Teenagers from single-parent and blended families are 3 times more likely to need psychological help in any given year. 1, 2
  • Children from divorced homes have more psychological problems than children from homes that experience a death of a parent. 1, 2
  • A study of kids six years following a divorce showed that these kids tended to be “lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure.” 2, 3
  • People from broken homes are almost twice as likely to attempt to commit suicide. 1

Physical Effects of Divorce

  • Children of divorce are at a greater risk to suffer from injury, asthma, headaches, sinuses and speech defects. 1, 2
  • Children following a divorce are 50% more likely to develop health problems than children in a two-parent home. 1, 2
  • A child raised by his mother alone is 10 times more likely to be beaten or murdered. 1
  • Children living with both biological parents are 20-35% more physically healthy than children from broken homes. 3

Societal Impacts of Divorce

  • 70% of long term prison inmates grew up in broken homes. 1
  • Children of divorce are four times more likely to report problems with peers than children whose parents stay together. 1
  • Children of divorce (especially boys) tend to be more aggressive. 1
  • Children from fatherless homes are 6.6 times more likely to become teenage mothers. 2
  • Children from fatherless homes are 6.3 times more likely to be in state-operated institutions. 2
  • Children from fatherless homes are 10.8 times more likely to commit rape. 2
  • Children from fatherless homes are 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison as a teenager. 2
  • Nearly half of parents with children who are going through a divorce move into poverty after a divorce. 6
  • “The study, based on extensive individual interviews, also found that adult children of divorced parents are more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol in adolescence, and they seldom match their parents’ educational and economic achievements by the time they reach their 20s.” 9
  • “Among the adult children of divorce, 38 percent had children. Among adult children from intact families, 61 percent had children.” 9
  • “The use of drugs and alcohol before age 14 among the children of divorce was 25 percent, while among children of intact families it was 9 percent.” 9

The Myth That Divorce is the “Best Alternative” or “The Kids Will Be Better Off”

  • A long term study released in 2002 by the Institute for American Vales indicated that “that "unhappily married adults who divorced were no more likely to report emotional or psychological improvements than those who stayed married.” 3
  • The Institute for American Values Study found that 8 out of 10 couples who avoided divorce were happily married five years later.

Come join me and a team of volunteer and bi-vocational children’s minister on April 7, 2010 from 9:00-10:00 PM EST to discuss how we can minister to these kids of divorce.  We hope to talk to you then.

Sources:

1 http://www.marriage-success-secrets.com/statistics-about-children-and-divorce.html

2 http://www.articlesbase.com/divorce-articles/children-of-divorce-the-shocking-statistics-833765.html

3 http://www.buzzle.com/articles/hidden-effects-divorce-children.html 4 http://www.psychpage.com/family/mod_couples_thx/divorce.html 5 http://www.futurescopes.com/coping-divorce/901/how-does-divorce-affect-children-coping-after-effects-divorce-your-kids 6 http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2000/06/the-effects-of-divorce-on-america 7 http://www.childadvocate.net/divorce_effects_on_children.htm 8 http://parenting247.org/article.cfm?ContentID=646 9 http://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/main/painful-legacy-of-divorce-breakups-effect-on-children-often-reaches-far-into-adulthood/menu-id-63/

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