Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

How Does Divorce Affect the Kids?

on June 14, 2014

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photo credit: gawnesco via photopin cc

There’s no one answer that will cover all situations and circumstances when it comes to how divorce affects children. There are certainly circumstances in cases of various forms of abuse when children are better off living with one single parent than in a dangerous environment with both. Having said that, I’ve spent many years studying piles of statistics and reports showing with an overwhelming certainty that children of divorce suffer. Since around half of all children will at some point in their lives see the divorce of their parents (and half of those experience multiple divorces with parents), we are literally raising a generation of young people who have far more challenges, setbacks and long-lasting emotional baggage than our grandparents did. Just think of that for a moment. Half of the children today will be suffer from the affects of divorce, which often includes relationship problems themselves. The covenant of marriage may literally be going extinct.

Before going on, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am in no way trying to bring hurt and lay guilt upon those parents who have gone through divorce. Not at all. If you are reading this and feeling judged, please understand that this is not my intention and I am not judging you. Believe me, I understand very well the horrible kinds of situations you may be living in. I understand the hurt of unloving marriages. I understand what neglect looks like. I know how hard it is when two people are unequally yoked in their faith and unevenly matched in their personalities.

To prove that I’m not judging you, I’ll confess here that my own marriage has been difficult. My husband and I got married quickly without taking time to get to know each other. While my husband is a great man, a wonderful and loving father and an attentive, affectionate husband, we have faced many challenges. We don’t match up like some couples do. We don’t think the same way. What has kept us together these years, and kept our home a place of peace, love and encouragement for our daughter, is that we love Jesus Christ, believe that He desires marriage to be for life, trust Him that He will honor our obedience and we lay aside our own issues to walk in love and unity. We may not have started out with a fiery love, but we have grown in a deep love and commitment for one another. Sure, we could have just gotten divorced when we realized we were not so well-matched, but when I look at my daughter and how she smiles at us when Mommy and Daddy cuddle on the couch, I know it’s worth it. We have been blessed and we love each other, but it’s been hard work and it has required sacrifice of what we think we deserve in marriage sometimes. God is faithful.

That being said, let’s talk about the kids of divorce. The statistics show with no uncertainty that the majority of kids coming from homes of divorce suffer emotionally, academically, financially and even physically. I won’t get into a bunch of statistics here, but if you have the time and are interested, take a look at some of the links below. The information is both alarming and disappointing. You can argue about individual circumstances, but the truth is the children suffer.

Most kids from homes of divorce suffer immediate and long-term affects. They struggle in school keeping grades up. They often drop out of sports and extra curricular activities. They tend to experience emotional problems such as with depression, guilt, confusion and instability. They often cannot comprehend why it is happening. Many times they lose a relationship with one of the parents altogether. When parents start to date other people, they suffer with bitterness, jealousy and anger. They feel replaced or rejected.

Teens of divorce tend to get into more trouble. They are more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex early on. They may look to fill that sense of emptiness within them with unhealthy and unsatisfying substitutes. Some run away from home. Teen pregnancy is more common. Some end up in juvenile detention.

Children of divorce often grow up to be people who are insecure and anxious. They are unhappy in relationships and don’t have a sense of what family should look like. They tend to need counseling and therapy well into their adult years. They are more likely to experience divorce themselves or to never want to marry. They have essentially lost faith in the institute of marriage. Some continue the unhealthy lifestyles they may have flirted with in the teen years. The prisons are full of men and women who grew up without a father in the home. The statistics and numbers prove this.

At the end of the day, one can’t ignore the facts. In the majority of cases, divorce is not the best solution for the kids involved. In the majority of cases, parents are choosing to serve their own interests rather than those of their kids. In pursuit of their own happiness, they are failing to see what it is doing to the little ones in their care. Children need both parents. They need stability. They need to see how God’s model of family should look. Children are better when parents make it work. There used to be a saying that kids are happy when parents are happy. That’s just not the case. Kids are happy when parents love each other. They are happy when parents respect each other. They are blessed when parents follow the Word of God and what it says about marriage and family.

Today, and always, I’m praying for marriage. Praying for people to not give up so easily. Praying for people to work hard at it and to lay aside their own feelings if need be. I’m praying for Jesus to be the focus of the home and the Bible to direct the household. I’m praying for kids of divorce to be sheltered from the pain and aftermath. Praying for them to experience healing. Praying for them to break the cycles of divorce in their own lives.

This generation is different than any other. It is filled with young people who have experienced the pain of divorce. If the cycles continue, the years to come will bring even more of a breakdown in marriage and family. Yes, we are seeing the dawn of the extinction of marriage. We need to fight back. If you are reading this and you are considering divorce, please pray. Please get wise counsel from someone who believes the whole Bible. Please know that there is hope for reconciliation in Jesus. If you’d like to speak to me, feel free to contact me at chelsea_mccafferty @ yahoo.com (without spaces). God bless you!

Statistics

18 Shocking Children and Divorce Statistics

Focus on the Family – How Could Divorce Affect My Kids?

Divorce Statistics

Josh McDowell’s Blog – Broken Home, Broken Kids

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