Divorce is a pressing issue in America today. PolitiFact.com estimates in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%-50%. Lilienfeld discusses the effects of divorce on children in Chapter 10 of his book. As I read this section of the book I was intrigued. I myself am not a child of a divorced family however I know many friends and family members who have been directly affected. One of the major problems in the dispute over the effects of divorce on children derives from the wide range of outside factors surrounding the divorce.
In an article written by Dr. Lesley Foulkes-Jamison, she describes the influence of age to be a major contributor. She suggests the difference in effects on a preschooler verses an adolescent to be astonishing. As I looked at her findings and studies I began relating it to our lecture from this past week on cognitive ability. The limited cognitive abilities of a preschooler may lead to diminished responses in the ability to cope with the events of the divorce. On the other hand Dr. Foulkes-Jamison discussed the ability for adolescents to fully comprehend the detrimental effects of the divorce. She points out the integration process that is necessary into the adolescent's life which will therefor adversely affect their own identity. This aspect of the article also got me pondering the section in chapter 10 surrounding gender identity. I had never looked at a divorce as imposing a debilitating factor in the identity of someone other than the two individuals actually getting the divorce. Dr. Foulkes Jamison however suggested it to be just as traumatizing to the child as well as the parent.
Another intriguing facet of the article compares the effects of gender on the behavior of a child experiencing the effects of a divorce. Foulkes-Jamison displays a girl's behavior as becoming increasingly anxious and potentially withdrawn from society as a result of the divorce. On the other hand boys may display aggression or disobedience as a coping mechanism. Differences is gender along with age, vary the effects of divorce on the child, therefor creating a more diverse nature in the study of divorce and its consequences.
The article helped me to understand that the effects of a divorce on children are not all the same, but continually changing based on many outside factors. Dr. Lesley Foulkes-Jamison offered insight into the psychological differences that may occur based on the essence of development, and tied nicely into many aspect of this chapter. It also helped me to realize all of her findings are generalizations, and not concrete descriptions of every child's response to the event of a divorce. The article left me wondering what other individual characteristics are called into question as children experience a divorce. May it be culture, income level, or birth order there must be some other explanations.
Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding By: Scott Lilienfeld