Social Issues / A Sociological View Of Divorce

A Sociological View Of Divorce

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Autor:  anton  01 September 2010
Tags:  Sociological,  Divorce
Words: 4373   |   Pages: 18
Views: 667

They were the family you always wish you had…

The Cleavers. Wise and wonderful Ward. A pal as well as a Dad. June. The perfect wife and mother. Big brother Wally. Popular, smart and athletic – one tough act to follow. And last but definitely not least, hapless, irrepressible Theodore, a.k.a. “the Beaver,” just a regular kid trying his best to stay out of trouble while finding a thousand ways to place himself at trouble’s doorstep. Leave it to Beaver. It was the television hit in the ‘60s that hallmarked the phrase, “ The American Family” and made it its own.

Introduction:

Here we are, 40 years later, in the midst of social turmoil, where the values and principles such as the family unit that were once our nation’s bedframe, are now the very same values and principles we are starting to question. Needless to say, the family structure is riding the wave of a rapidly changing society and changing right along with it. More adolescents are growing up in a wider margin of family structures than ever before in history. Divorce is not only personal trouble dividing households, but it has become a developing Social issue sweeping the nation. The number of adolescents growing up specifically in broken families is mounting everyday. Divorce has become an epidemic among our nation invading one in every two marriages in this country (Patz 59). In fact the United States has the highest percentile of single – parent families, compared to all other countries (Santrock 167). And by age 18, approximately one fourth of all American children will have lived part of their lives in a step-family unit (Santrock 167). I knew that adolescents of divorced families were put at a greater individual risk and vulnerability to adjustment problems later in life, however I was not aware of the particular areas that such a division in the family structure could have an affect on. Evidence shows however that not only does divorce permanently weaken the child/parents relationship, but has also been found to be behind lowered academic performance, destructive ways of handling conflict, a poorer self-image, greater engagement in delinquent activities and the root of pessimism towards future relationships and goals in life. These things only perpetuate the rapid downward spiral of family breakdown (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?” 2000).

Theoretical Framework:

Sociologists often look at behaviors and societal trends from a theoretical perspective. Such perspectives are theories, or a set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain, and predict social events. I would like to take a deeper look at the United State’s current rising divorce rate and its affect on our adolescents, from an interactionist perspective. Interactionists viewpoints are based on the assumption that society is the sum of the meaning of the interactions of the individuals and groups. This perspective focuses on behavior or on each person’s interpretation or definition of a given situation. The relation of divorce to this macro-level interactionist theory is that divorce is primarily dependent on humans living in cohesive groups or not, and communicating and its affects on the members involved. Research shows that the wrenching act of divorce and the loss of that original unit and the hope tied to it is often irreplaceable for a child and has a permanent affect of cataclysmic proportions (Preston 12). And children of divorced households, appear to show higher expectations of divorce and to have higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have children (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?” 2000). Thus completing the downward spin of the deterioration in family units and the increase of the divorce rate.

Personal Trouble:

I have been blessed to be born and raised in an intact household and to have a close family. But I have been in the company of many who haven’t had that same background. My roommate here, who is one of my closest friends, comes from a divorced family. And in researching this topic, I have been able to pick out many more characteristics of a stereotypical child from a broken home in her. In sharing some of my discoveries, in no way am I belittling my roommate or presenting her as a bad person at all, I have the utmost respect for Sarah and her family. But, divorce did take its toll on her, and her family. Sarah’s parents were first separated when she was 8 for 2 years, and then officially became divorced when she was 10. Neither parents are remarried or currently dating another party. When Sarah was younger, she has shared with me that she would she was devastated, but she didn’t know how to deal with her pain and anger, and so she didn’t. She pushed it from her mind. But pain never goes away, and it showed up in places she didn’t intend. Sarah revealed to me her struggles especially when she was younger with classmates and school performance. Her reactions to normal conflict were extreme and sometimes debilitating. Increased feelings of irritability and frustration lead to difficulty with other classmates, leaving her alone and feeling isolated not only at home, but now amongst her peers. Overwhelming feelings of sadness, and lonliness and a damaged self image was reflected in her school work as she could not concentrate on her work. Relationships, academic performance and her happiness suffered immensely. As she matured and aged, Sarah was able to deal with her emotions and hurt better. But that does not mean it hasn’t gone away. She believes her parents are happier people now because of it, and although she misses family outings – she rather see her parents happy then angry and bitter. Sarah has come a long way, she has grown up a lot. She does not place blame, but wishes her parents had been saved, for maybe that would have made a difference. Sarah shared a verse with me in Malachi 2:16, “ ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith.” She found comfort in this passage, feeling that her parents aren’t completely to blame, for they did not know the Lord, and thus had no faith to work off of. Sarah makes one thing certain, that she is going to marry a man who loves the Lord who will continue to endeavor in having a communion among the three of them!

Social Issue:

Are adolescents better adjusted with in intact families than in divorced families? Or is there no difference? When compared to children of never-divorced families, researchers agree that children and adolescents from divorced families show poorer adjustment in every area of life (Santrock 167). Studies conclude that 25% of children from divorced families have severe social, emotional, or psychological problems, as opposed to 10% of kids from intact families (Corliss 41). After following more than 100 kids whose parents had recently divorced, Wallerstein concluded that the affects of a break in the family unit are life-long and traumatic for children and adolescents. While the parents were liberated, interviews with the kids displayed a profound pessimism about their future and were left feeling bereft ( Kantrowitz 48). Adolescents also battle with anxiety, and self blame and anger, which then acts as the undercurrent for making bad choices in relationhips, and giving up hastily when prolems present themselves. They struggle because they lack an “internal template” of a successful relationship (Kantrowitz 49). And as adults, these young people were frightened of failure, of commitment , and terrified that they were going to follow in their parents footsteps (Corliss 41). Such emotional hardships only set the stage for misbehavior and delinquent activity.

As marriage has become a more optional, less permanent institution in contemporary America, adolescents are encountering stresses and adaptive challenges that piggy-back off of their parents’ marital transitions. Such dysfunctional self concepts, anxiety and trouble adapting socially as discussed earlier have been proven to affect the child’s actions, as well as their mind set as well. Recent studies have shown that adolescents who have endured a divorce experience are most likely to have academic problems, deviant behavior, are more likely to drop out of school, to become sexually active at an earlier age, to experiment with drugs, to associate with “the wrong crowd”, and to have low self-esteem (“How does Divorce Affect Children?” 2001). Anxiety battles carry over into the classroom too. Children of divorced families,

“…suffer sever cognitive impairments as a result of parental separation. There is a significant disruption in the child’s ability to paricipate freely in the learning process. Anxiety, restlessness, inability to concentrate, and intrusive thoughts about the separation all contribute to this disruption and lead to a drop in school performance (How Does Divorce Affect Children?” 2001).”

And from the classroom, such problems appear on the streets and neighborhoods as well. Children of broken homes are significantly more likely to become delinquent by the age 15, regardless of when the divorce took place, than are children who are from intact homes (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?”2000). And children without biological fathers in the home are roughly 3 times more likely to commit a crime that leads to imprisonment than are children from intact families (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?”2000). Divorce also stands behind one of the deadliest killers of our adolescents; suicide. The most frequent background characteristic among adolescents who commit suicide is the divorce of their parents (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior” 2000).

Another affect that divorce has on adolescence is the loss of intimate relationships between both or one parent and the adolescent. Weak bonds with parents emerge from the turmoil that precedes and follows divorce. Studies continually show that divorce is heavily associated with fewer expressions of parental affection, greater parental strictness in dealing with children’s misbehavior and more inconsistency in dispensing discipline (Amato 905). Parental loss through divorce is a disruption of one of the most sacred and significant relationships in any child’s life. And thus, can have a considerable impact in one’s life. But often times in the occurrence of a divorce, where the parents in any case are not “full time parents” but rather take on the roles of nonresidential parents. Such is the role in which the parents try to have a friendly, companionable relationship with their adolescents, rather than a traditional parental relationship (Santrock 169). The parents focus their energy to keeping the visits with their child pleasant and entertaining where they can be more of a “friend”, and are reluctant to assume the position of disciplinarian or authoritarian (Santrock 169). The loss of authoritative parenting in an adolescents life leaves children without structure and without consequences and rules. Thus it is this shove that sends them spiraling into self destructive behavior. And researchers prove that about one fourth to one third of adolescents in divorced families, compared to 10 percent in nondivorced families, end up becoming disengaged from their families all together, spending as little time as possible at home and in contact with family members (Santrock 169). This corruption between the parent and adolescent just adds to more problems later on life as well. From the onset of the divorce the child has already become accustomed to sacrificing his/her own needs and developments. And as studies have concurred that this makes it hard for them to develop socially as their relationship role models have been demolished in their eyes (Bush 1124). Not only has the child lost their own sense of identity through a divorce, but also many times their parents as well.

Conclusion:

So what happened to the “Leave it to Beaver” persona that used to be seen in the typical American family and not just on TV? As long as families follow the trend that divorce is setting, more and more children will be the victimized and left to fend for themselves whether it be physically with unstable custodial parents or mentally without any role models and structure in their lives to keep them on the straight and narrow. I think divorce acts as its own indicator that it disrupts peoples lives, especially adolescents as they are more impressionable in this stage. Divorce has been shown to adversely affect academic performance, and personal characteristics as far as social skills and self presentation, it erodes the parent-child relationship and takes away structure and replaces it with a consequence free environment. And when you take a child, an adolescent none-the-less at the height of confusion and insecurity and remove boundaries such as parents, rules, and regulations, that’s trouble. If children are our future, maybe we should be equipping them with more than freedom. To appropriately prepare for the future, I think we should take a step back into the past and watch a few Leave It to Beaver episodes and maybe we can come up with a better game plan.

They were the family you always wish you had…

The Cleavers. Wise and wonderful Ward. A pal as well as a Dad. June. The perfect wife and mother. Big brother Wally. Popular, smart and athletic – one tough act to follow. And last but definitely not least, hapless, irrepressible Theodore, a.k.a. “the Beaver,” just a regular kid trying his best to stay out of trouble while finding a thousand ways to place himself at trouble’s doorstep. Leave it to Beaver. It was the television hit in the ‘60s that hallmarked the phrase, “ The American Family” and made it its own.

Introduction:

Here we are, 40 years later, in the midst of social turmoil, where the values and principles such as the family unit that were once our nation’s bedframe, are now the very same values and principles we are starting to question. Needless to say, the family structure is riding the wave of a rapidly changing society and changing right along with it. More adolescents are growing up in a wider margin of family structures than ever before in history. Divorce is not only personal trouble dividing households, but it has become a developing Social issue sweeping the nation. The number of adolescents growing up specifically in broken families is mounting everyday. Divorce has become an epidemic among our nation invading one in every two marriages in this country (Patz 59). In fact the United States has the highest percentile of single – parent families, compared to all other countries (Santrock 167). And by age 18, approximately one fourth of all American children will have lived part of their lives in a step-family unit (Santrock 167). I knew that adolescents of divorced families were put at a greater individual risk and vulnerability to adjustment problems later in life, however I was not aware of the particular areas that such a division in the family structure could have an affect on. Evidence shows however that not only does divorce permanently weaken the child/parents relationship, but has also been found to be behind lowered academic performance, destructive ways of handling conflict, a poorer self-image, greater engagement in delinquent activities and the root of pessimism towards future relationships and goals in life. These things only perpetuate the rapid downward spiral of family breakdown (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?” 2000).

Theoretical Framework:

Sociologists often look at behaviors and societal trends from a theoretical perspective. Such perspectives are theories, or a set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain, and predict social events. I would like to take a deeper look at the United State’s current rising divorce rate and its affect on our adolescents, from an interactionist perspective. Interactionists viewpoints are based on the assumption that society is the sum of the meaning of the interactions of the individuals and groups. This perspective focuses on behavior or on each person’s interpretation or definition of a given situation. The relation of divorce to this macro-level interactionist theory is that divorce is primarily dependent on humans living in cohesive groups or not, and communicating and its affects on the members involved. Research shows that the wrenching act of divorce and the loss of that original unit and the hope tied to it is often irreplaceable for a child and has a permanent affect of cataclysmic proportions (Preston 12). And children of divorced households, appear to show higher expectations of divorce and to have higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have children (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?” 2000). Thus completing the downward spin of the deterioration in family units and the increase of the divorce rate.

Personal Trouble:

I have been blessed to be born and raised in an intact household and to have a close family. But I have been in the company of many who haven’t had that same background. My roommate here, who is one of my closest friends, comes from a divorced family. And in researching this topic, I have been able to pick out many more characteristics of a stereotypical child from a broken home in her. In sharing some of my discoveries, in no way am I belittling my roommate or presenting her as a bad person at all, I have the utmost respect for Sarah and her family. But, divorce did take its toll on her, and her family. Sarah’s parents were first separated when she was 8 for 2 years, and then officially became divorced when she was 10. Neither parents are remarried or currently dating another party. When Sarah was younger, she has shared with me that she would she was devastated, but she didn’t know how to deal with her pain and anger, and so she didn’t. She pushed it from her mind. But pain never goes away, and it showed up in places she didn’t intend. Sarah revealed to me her struggles especially when she was younger with classmates and school performance. Her reactions to normal conflict were extreme and sometimes debilitating. Increased feelings of irritability and frustration lead to difficulty with other classmates, leaving her alone and feeling isolated not only at home, but now amongst her peers. Overwhelming feelings of sadness, and lonliness and a damaged self image was reflected in her school work as she could not concentrate on her work. Relationships, academic performance and her happiness suffered immensely. As she matured and aged, Sarah was able to deal with her emotions and hurt better. But that does not mean it hasn’t gone away. She believes her parents are happier people now because of it, and although she misses family outings – she rather see her parents happy then angry and bitter. Sarah has come a long way, she has grown up a lot. She does not place blame, but wishes her parents had been saved, for maybe that would have made a difference. Sarah shared a verse with me in Malachi 2:16, “ ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith.” She found comfort in this passage, feeling that her parents aren’t completely to blame, for they did not know the Lord, and thus had no faith to work off of. Sarah makes one thing certain, that she is going to marry a man who loves the Lord who will continue to endeavor in having a communion among the three of them!

Social Issue:

Are adolescents better adjusted with in intact families than in divorced families? Or is there no difference? When compared to children of never-divorced families, researchers agree that children and adolescents from divorced families show poorer adjustment in every area of life (Santrock 167). Studies conclude that 25% of children from divorced families have severe social, emotional, or psychological problems, as opposed to 10% of kids from intact families (Corliss 41). After following more than 100 kids whose parents had recently divorced, Wallerstein concluded that the affects of a break in the family unit are life-long and traumatic for children and adolescents. While the parents were liberated, interviews with the kids displayed a profound pessimism about their future and were left feeling bereft ( Kantrowitz 48). Adolescents also battle with anxiety, and self blame and anger, which then acts as the undercurrent for making bad choices in relationhips, and giving up hastily when prolems present themselves. They struggle because they lack an “internal template” of a successful relationship (Kantrowitz 49). And as adults, these young people were frightened of failure, of commitment , and terrified that they were going to follow in their parents footsteps (Corliss 41). Such emotional hardships only set the stage for misbehavior and delinquent activity.

As marriage has become a more optional, less permanent institution in contemporary America, adolescents are encountering stresses and adaptive challenges that piggy-back off of their parents’ marital transitions. Such dysfunctional self concepts, anxiety and trouble adapting socially as discussed earlier have been proven to affect the child’s actions, as well as their mind set as well. Recent studies have shown that adolescents who have endured a divorce experience are most likely to have academic problems, deviant behavior, are more likely to drop out of school, to become sexually active at an earlier age, to experiment with drugs, to associate with “the wrong crowd”, and to have low self-esteem (“How does Divorce Affect Children?” 2001). Anxiety battles carry over into the classroom too. Children of divorced families,

“…suffer sever cognitive impairments as a result of parental separation. There is a significant disruption in the child’s ability to paricipate freely in the learning process. Anxiety, restlessness, inability to concentrate, and intrusive thoughts about the separation all contribute to this disruption and lead to a drop in school performance (How Does Divorce Affect Children?” 2001).”

And from the classroom, such problems appear on the streets and neighborhoods as well. Children of broken homes are significantly more likely to become delinquent by the age 15, regardless of when the divorce took place, than are children who are from intact homes (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?”2000). And children without biological fathers in the home are roughly 3 times more likely to commit a crime that leads to imprisonment than are children from intact families (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?”2000). Divorce also stands behind one of the deadliest killers of our adolescents; suicide. The most frequent background characteristic among adolescents who commit suicide is the divorce of their parents (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior” 2000).

Another affect that divorce has on adolescence is the loss of intimate relationships between both or one parent and the adolescent. Weak bonds with parents emerge from the turmoil that precedes and follows divorce. Studies continually show that divorce is heavily associated with fewer expressions of parental affection, greater parental strictness in dealing with children’s misbehavior and more inconsistency in dispensing discipline (Amato 905). Parental loss through divorce is a disruption of one of the most sacred and significant relationships in any child’s life. And thus, can have a considerable impact in one’s life. But often times in the occurrence of a divorce, where the parents in any case are not “full time parents” but rather take on the roles of nonresidential parents. Such is the role in which the parents try to have a friendly, companionable relationship with their adolescents, rather than a traditional parental relationship (Santrock 169). The parents focus their energy to keeping the visits with their child pleasant and entertaining where they can be more of a “friend”, and are reluctant to assume the position of disciplinarian or authoritarian (Santrock 169). The loss of authoritative parenting in an adolescents life leaves children without structure and without consequences and rules. Thus it is this shove that sends them spiraling into self destructive behavior. And researchers prove that about one fourth to one third of adolescents in divorced families, compared to 10 percent in nondivorced families, end up becoming disengaged from their families all together, spending as little time as possible at home and in contact with family members (Santrock 169). This corruption between the parent and adolescent just adds to more problems later on life as well. From the onset of the divorce the child has already become accustomed to sacrificing his/her own needs and developments. And as studies have concurred that this makes it hard for them to develop socially as their relationship role models have been demolished in their eyes (Bush 1124). Not only has the child lost their own sense of identity through a divorce, but also many times their parents as well.

Conclusion:

So what happened to the “Leave it to Beaver” persona that used to be seen in the typical American family and not just on TV? As long as families follow the trend that divorce is setting, more and more children will be the victimized and left to fend for themselves whether it be physically with unstable custodial parents or mentally without any role models and structure in their lives to keep them on the straight and narrow. I think divorce acts as its own indicator that it disrupts peoples lives, especially adolescents as they are more impressionable in this stage. Divorce has been shown to adversely affect academic performance, and personal characteristics as far as social skills and self presentation, it erodes the parent-child relationship and takes away structure and replaces it with a consequence free environment. And when you take a child, an adolescent none-the-less at the height of confusion and insecurity and remove boundaries such as parents, rules, and regulations, that’s trouble. If children are our future, maybe we should be equipping them with more than freedom. To appropriately prepare for the future, I think we should take a step back into the past and watch a few Leave It to Beaver episodes and maybe we can come up with a better game plan.



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