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Saturday, September 29, 2007

the impact of parental separation on children

The study takes course on the impact of parental separation on children’s development. Through survey and interview, responses were made regarding the effects of this family problem. Generally, the impact is negative because parental split-up causes personal and social impairments. There are also benefits but the disadvantages far outweigh these. Coping mechanisms are resorted to in order to combat the negative effects, but these are difficult to undertake and takes long before producing favorable results. To help children adjust to the situation, parents need to cooperate and provide different kinds of support to their children.
Parental separation is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse. In many developed countries, separation rates have increased markedly during the previous century. Among the states in which separation has become a commonplace are the United States , South Korea , and members of the European Union. It is reported that more than 1 million children each year experience their parents’ separation. This condition will affect not only the spouse but also their children. The effects may vary according to the degree of separation but oftentimes, the behavior and relationship of the children are the ones greatly affected by that sad ending. Because of the rising separation rate, an investigation, through this research, is conducted to determine the effects of parental separation. This study will give an actual insight of children coming from a broken family. This will give necessary information on how these children reacted and accepted the separation of their parents.
The researchers are determined to study the effects of parental separation on children since this is a widely occurring problem on the family condition and is no longer a microcosmic but a worldwide phenomenon. Aside from that, everybody should be concerned and be aware of the plight of those who are products of a broken family in order to act on the reduction of the climbing rate at which parents separate yearly, causing sometimes irreparable damage on the inevitable victims that are the children.
Review of Literature
Emery (1999) views change as characteristic of all divorces. This is experienced even before the physical separation and continues well after the legal divorce. It can create a better or worse domestic environment, to which all children must adapt. Hence, children are affected psychologically on two levels: they need adaptation to change and need long-term psychological adjustment. The stability following this may be better, worse, or just different from that before the divorce.
Ayalon and Flasher (1993) report that broken families have become so prevalent that the social and psychological stigma the parental separation creates on children have often been overlooked. For one, this causes a tremendous amount of stress on children. Children also develop feelings of alienation, anger, confusion and despair. They frequently get affected cognitively, behaviorally and psychosocially. These children often require professional help in order to adjust to their frayed domestic atmosphere.
Buchanan et al (1996) examine that separating parents worry over the detrimental effects of their divorce on the happiness, well-being, responsibility and independence of their children. While there are children who adapt well after their parents' separation, there may be more if more information and support were provided professionally. Conversely, failure to adapt results to the impairment of children's capacity for development.
Theoretical/Conceptual Framework
Statement of the Problems
The study addresses the following questions:
1. What are the behavioral effects of parental separation as a result of the survey conducted to an offspring of a broken family?
2. What causes the change of behavior of a child that came from a broken family?
3. How did the parental separation affect the offspring's relationship with their parents?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of parental separation on children?
5. Who do these children trust regarding problems generated by parental separation?
6. What are the coping mechanisms of children whose parents have separated?
7. How long did the children use these coping mechanisms after their parents have separated?
Significance of the Study
The study is undertaken with the following considerations at hand:
1. To be aware of the behavioral change of those children who are raised by a broken family.2. To recognize the emotional needs and feeling of those who are products of a broken family.3. To develop ways on how to rehabilitate children's behavior in response to the separation of their parents.
4. To visualize how children change and how they respond to the separation of their parents.5. To realize the real essence of a complete family.
The participants chosen discreetly by the respondents are known personally. The foremost qualification for the participants was their unique condition of having separated parents, legally or otherwise. Their ages range the late adolescence, a period that is crucial in identity formation and social interaction. The participants came from both sexes and from the middle to upper classes.
The operation of the variables proceeded as follows: the parental separation was viewed as the constant variable whereas the effects this separation causes were the dependent variables. The effects were categorized based on the positivity, negativity and neutrality in order to make a conclusion on how they impact children of separated parents.
The data collected from this study were sourced out via survey and interview. The researchers prepared questions relevant to the study and handed them out to and asked directly from the respondents. After letting the respondents answer the questions, the researchers made notations regarding the data, tabulated, interpreted and gave implications to the results.
Limitations of the Study
This study will strictly cover adolescents who are a product of a broken family. This will provide necessary information on how these young people reacted on the separation of their parents, how they accept, how they change, among other things concerning on behavioral matters only. This study will depend on the survey and on the interview of the respondents. This study will not give many elaborations apart from the personal, behavioral and social effects of parental separation. It will not also give much emphasis on the gender of the respondents as well as their social status in life. In addition, this study will not any more scrutinize the most private lives of the respondents as well as the reasons why their parents ended up separating. Lastly, the scope of the investigation is limited to 15-20 respondents only.
The survey conducted on the children of separated parents yielded the following results, with answers appearing verbatim:
1. Do you prefer that your parents live together? Why?
· Yes, for my younger siblings. It would be for their welfare
· Yes, because I’m closer to my father
· N/A. No father
· No, I’m used to how things are
· No, hell no! They just don’t
· No, there are so many issues between them and both sides of the family
· No, they just fight
· Yes, so it would become happier
· Not really, they seem to be happy and that they are better friends now that they are separated
· No, if they do they just wont get along
· No, I have two houses to go to
· Not really. Maybe I would have if I had actually experienced it, but since I have no memories of them living together whatsoever, I can’t really imagine it. Besides, I’m really used to them living separately already; it’d be weirder for me if they actually lived together.
· It depends. I was pretty young when my parents separated and I didn’t exactly know what the cause was. My parents act normally when they’re around each other but they also have a lot of side comments about each other. Basing it on this, I’d prefer that they don’t live together. We all live happily now and that is fine with me. The only benefits, for me, of having them live together are: not having to go out of the way to visit my dad and actually having him around.
· Yes because I don’t want a broken family
· No, because they fight all the time. I think they’re just not meant to be together.
· I prefer that my parents live together but if the basis by which it happens is because they want to maintain a “complete-family-atmosphere” for the sake of us, the children, then I would rather that they live separately. It would be much harder for the kids to witness the everyday quarrels and arguments they may have because of their respective indifferences with each other.
· No I cant picture them together anymore
2. Whom would you rather live with, your mom or with your dad? Why?
· My mom. Because she would need someone to help her with stuff
· Dad. We understand each other more
· Mom, she’s great
· Mom. I live with her already
· Mom, she is less judgmental
· Mom, She’s the most responsible and I’m more close with my mom
· My dad. I’m closer to him
· Dad. I’m closer to my dad
· Either. My mom takes care of me while my dad is fun. “one of the boys fun”
· Mom, I feel she makes me feel more secure
· Mom, but at times to be with my dad. He just has everything
· My mom. I’ve lived with her all my life, so I’m closer to her. Besides, my dad’s too conservative and strict, and I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I’m doing now if I stayed with my dad.
· As I said, we all live happily now. It is hard to choose who I want to live with because there are pros and cons to both. Maybe I would choose my mom though because I am already used to the way things work around her house.
· Mom. I’m closer with my mom and I know that she’ll take care of me better than my dad.
· With my mom of course because my dad abandoned us for like four years.
· I would rather live with my mom, as I do at present, because the compassion of a mother is still very different from that of a father’s, although still on a case-to-case basis. On a personal note, because I am the only daughter and the eldest of 4 kids in my family, my father burdened me with the responsibilities, that supposedly belonged to a parent, with my mom out of the house. As a result, I carelessly failed to focus on what I was supposed to, instead struggled to play wife to my father (in the sense that I do the grocery-shopping and management of the house and not in any malicious way) and a mother to my younger brothers. For this reason, I chose to live with my mother as she never forgets to be that significant person in my life as a growing young adult entering the real world.
· Mom
3. Did your parents’ separation affect your relationship with them? Explain.
· Yes. I became more distant to them because I still don’t accept their separation
· Yes. I became more cold towards them
· Of course, I became closer to my mom
· Nope. I get to see my mom and dad normally
· Yeah. I felt tense whenever I talked about the other
· I became closer with my mom. There was lack of communication from my dads side
· Not really, actually it improved
· No, they are still my parents
· NO
· I became less close to my father, there was a lack of communication. For awhile I was distant to both
· Yes. I became more close with my feelings to them
· Yeah, it did. I used to be really bitter about the whole situation; I blamed their separation for all the disappointment in my life. There was this really huge distance between my mom and me for quite some time, and even more with my dad. My mom and I are okay now, but sometimes I feel like I never really got to fix things with my dad.
· I could say that it did but just a little. My dad lived in the US when I was young so I hardly got to talk to him. I only got to see him every year when I spent my summer over there. But honestly, I could not even remember the time that we all lived together.
· Only with my dad. I was a bit cold with him after the separation
· With my mom, it didn’t but with my dad, yeah it did. Well, first I don’t trust him anymore and now that his back, I take him for granted, though he lives in his parents’ house. Even though he find ways to make it up to us it can never bring back the hard times we’ve had because he left us hanging. I love my mom so much and she’s done everything for the three of us to the point of sacrificing her own happiness just to feed us. You see, because of my dad, my mom suffered and had to face everything she doesn’t deserve of. I’m really disappointed and disgusted of what my dad did, not only for abandoning us but because of hitting my mom as well.
· Yes, it affected my relationship with each of them. I completely lost all trust and admiration for my father as I, myself, discovered his philandering acts and infidelity to my mother and us, his children. For almost a year since the incident, I hadn’t spoken to him or seen him. I had no more respect for him left as certain reasons robbed that from me. Right now, I am on the verge of rebuilding my relationship with my father because I deem it necessary for my own piece of mind. My mother, on the other hand, shares a deeper and more connected bond with me. Because of everything that happened, we learned to stand by each other, under all circumstances.
· No
4. How did your parents’ separation affect you?
· I became a little more introverted and a little more reflective
· My grades suffered
· I grew up independently
· Not so much
· I became aversive to commitment
· In a way it affected my confidence and security. Sometimes I’m dismayed when some parents interview me and think of pity
· Surprisingly I’m happier. Things have calmed down. They’re still civil to each other
· I think I became more independent
· At first I had a hard time but soon became apathetic
· My grades suffered, became emotionally unstable, didn’t have a good relationship with dad, had lack of trust to others
· I'm like a closed book about my feeling though I'm still fun to be around with
· My grades actually dropped sometime in grade school because of the whole thing, mostly because I wallowed in self-pity. At that time it felt like I was an outcast of some sort, like I wasn’t normal, just because my parents didn’t live together. But I’m okay now, and I’m actually kind of open about the whole thing. I think that the fact that I’m from a dysfunctional family has affected my way of thinking; I’m more open-minded and liberated.
· It didn’t affect me personally. I don’t think that my attitude or whatsoever changed because of this
· It hurt a lot. I had a hard time accepting it.
· I have become more emotional when it comes to my mom.
· It affected me as it affected my three younger brothers. I saw the disappointment and tremendous pain and confusion they had. It also affected me because I had to carry the guilt that was utterly uncalled for because I was the one who had discovered of my father’s infidelity. For a time, I blamed myself for opening up the topic to my mom – to share what I found out. I blamed everyone, including myself, for what happened to our family. Because of this, I found it hard to trust people, especially boys. I mustered a cynical and deep-rooted hate for boys I deemed and assumed to be like my father. I had also let go of my priorities. In short, I found myself stuck in a rut. For a year, my life went down the drain because I failed to care for myself, for my future.
· My grades suffered and my relationship with them
5. Who do you turn to when you have problems regarding your parents’ separation?
· Girlfriend
· Girlfriend
· None
· Siblings
· No one
· My titos, titas, grandparents and cousins. They are very supportive
· My dad, I don’t really go to my friends
· Friends, Relatives
· NO one
· Friends, Mom
· No one
· Best friends, God.
· I actually never had a problem with this so I wouldn’t know. Maybe my sister, if ever.
· Close Friends
· My uncles
· Technically, I didn’t turn to anyone, not even to God, no matter how preachy that sounds. I always drowned myself in my own misery and at the same time, sought to find the answers to my own questions. Fortunately, as I gradually developed a tighter connection with my mother, I eventually was able to vent out to her and ask her all the things I wanted to clarify. At the same time, I was made to see a therapist and a psychologist to unleash all the anger and pain in me.
· Cousins and friends
6. For you, what are the disadvantages of having separated parents?
· None
· Family activities
· No father figure
· I feel an anxiety when there are people doing P(ublic) D(isplay of) A(ffection) because I never saw that when I was a kid
· I am juggled between the two
· Lack of security, Financial battles
· It's hard when I need them together for certain events
· When they are not there when I need them
· Only one parent dictates the rules
· When in family events...incomplete. Children are more “pakawala”
· Making two beds
· No man in the house, no one to drive us around when there’s no driver (my mom doesn’t drive).
· Communication with the parent whom you are not living with, someone who might understand you if the other parent doesn’t, more people around the house.
· It’ll have a terrible effect on the children because there are some who can’t deal with it.
· None
· Of course I can not say that I do not wish having dinner with my whole family or going to the malls with both my parents and my other siblings - that I miss the most. That would be the number one disadvantage of having separated parents. The children will also be affected greatly in all angles. Parents each trying to get the sympathies of the children by destroying the images of the other parent creates disharmony among children, between that parent and the children, and both parents.
· It didn’t affect me
7. How long did the effects of their separation last on you?
· Its still with me
· A year
· It didn’t
· O year
· Until I was 13
· I’m still somewhat affected
· Around a year
· I think it changed me as a person
· 1 month
· Until now
· Until now, since the birth of my younger sister
· 1 year
· None
· A year or two
· Until now
· Honestly, it affected me for a little more than a year. It possibly affected me for a year and 2 to 3 months.
8. How did you cope with the situation?
· I still don’t know
· Not to think about it. Talk to friends
· I cried
· Food
· I read books in order to escape
· Study well. Share with other situation, Just simple make life better, There is no point in sulking
· My dad kept talking to us about it
· I have to live with it
· Indifference
· Dance, friends
· Made loads of friends
· I had to force myself to accept it. No acceptance, no letting go. So I faced it, then I got over it. Haha.
· None
· Tried to accept it and moved on
· With the help of family and friends
· The thing is, I wasn’t able to cope with the situation at first. I rebelled and lost my principles which are both completely wrong. I was misinformed. Luckily, I found myself going nowhere but down and realized I had to do something, even on my own, to get myself back on my feet.
9. What are the benefits of your parents’ separation?
· None
· No more fighting in the house (screaming)
· None
· Lots of gifts and Money and Love
· I have learned to be wary of commitment and think things through
· No fighting and no trauma from conflicts
· Less emotional trauma
· Many
· Money
· Double allowance, more freedom
· Separate decisions. You ask one if the other doesn’t approve
· More freedom! I can do lots of things I would never have been able to do if my dad lived with us. Closer relationship with mom.
· I’m assuming that there would be less trouble around the house, no people fighting, and I get to use my dad as an excuse to leave the house.
· More allowance, more freedom
· I only have to ask permission to my mom. I can freely stay at any of the houses my parents have. I can just demand with my dad to drive for me if I have to run an errand or something because we both know he has no right to complain.
· The only benefit I had, aside from establishing a deep relationship with my mother, is that I learned to handle problems in a different way. I learned the hard truth about life at an early age and I am glad for it. I became stronger and unafraid of whatever else has to come my way.
· More money hahaha more family and more gifts
Living Separate Lives
Where applicable, most of the respondents prefer that their parents live separately after the manifestation of marital incompatibility. 11 out of 16 definitively-answering respondents or 68.75% say that it is better that their parents not live together. Meanwhile, only five out of 16 definitively-answering respondents or 31.25% say that their parents should stay together. The majority answer is a telling fact that it is less traumatic for children to have separated parents than parents that harbor conjugal differences while living in the same domicile. The latter, after all, will cost the children the struggle with a hostile home atmosphere because of the warring parents. The trauma, as said, may be less, but this creates maladjustment on the part of the respondents, as the foregoing will attest. For one, children are left to struggle with the absence of one parent and with the authority of the present one.
Maternal Preference
Where applicable, most of the respondents prefer to live with their mothers when their parents separate. 13 out of 16 definitively-answering parents or 81.25% choose to stay with their mothers. Meanwhile, 3 out of the same respondents or 18.75% choose to stay with their fathers. Since mothers are naturally more nurturing, it is conclusive that children of separated parents would choose their mothers if only to have a better personal adjustment on the domestic crisis. After all, mothers can relate more emotionally to their children since they are more open about their feelings. Fathers are less known to relate to children emotionally, so they are less preferred to be with during the short- and long-term periods of after-separation adjustments.
Inescapable Impact
Most of the respondents confess that their relationship with their parents was affected owing to the parental separation. 12 out of 18 respondents or 66.67% admit that their parents' split-up transformed the way they relate to their parents. Meanwhile, 6 out of 18 respondents or 33.33% admit that their parents' separation did not affect the relationship between the children and the parent/s. This means that the separation has an impact on the relationship between the parents and their children. No product of a broken family can escape the anxiety of separation since this is an anomaly on the stability of family structure.
Frayed Relational Ties
Most of the respondents see that their relationship with their separated parents got affected negatively. 12 out of 17 respondents or 70.59% have a negative way of seeing the effect their parents' separation has on the parents-children relationship. While five out of the 17 respondents or 29.41% do not see a negative effect of their parents' separation on the parents-children relationship, most of these are not positive, either. At most, it created a neutral effect on the filial ties. The generally negative effect on the way children relate to parents after the latter have separated points to the disturbance on the equilibrium of the family structure.
Kin Closeness
Most of the respondents turn to their relatives regarding post-separation problems, followed closely by other people. 8 out of 19 responses or 42.10% tell that they turn to siblings, relatives or parents. Meanwhile, 7 out of 19 responses or 36.84% tell that they have romantic partners or friends who act as their confidante on occasions problems arise. A significant number of the respondents, 4 out of 19 responses or 21.05%, do not turn to anyone at all, a telling fact that a social impairment was done by the separation. The closeness to kin is an attestation that blood is thicker than water, especially in the context of a family crisis such as parental split-up.
Personal and Social Costs of Separation
Most of the respondents see disadvantages on their parents' separation. 8 out of 17 respondents or 41.17% see personal disadvantages ranging from maladjustments because of the parents' absence to financial insecurity. 7 out of 17 respondents or 41.17% see social disadvantages ranging from alienation during family activities to difficulty of relating with either or both parents. Only three respondents or 17.64% see no disadvantage at all. This goes on to show that more than advantages, parental separations engender personal and social disadvantages. This means children of separated parents will have to suffer relationship problems owing to their exposure to such a problem. It also means possibility of having personal anxieties and insecurities because they may feel accountable of the parents’ decision to separate.
Slow Recovery
Most of the respondents experience long-term coping period regarding their parents' split-up. 10 out of 16 respondents or 62.5% admit to having long period in adjusting to the situation, with a few saying that they have yet to cope up at all. 6 out of 16 respondents or 37.5% admit to having coped up within a year or less after their parents separated. This behavioral problem points to the fact that adjustments are hard to come by when separation crisis hits the family. The shock value of the problem is hard to erase since they will have a new yet discrepant way of seeing the structure of a family unit.
Negative Means of Recovery
Regarding the kind of mechanisms respondents used in order to cope up with their parents' separation, there were more negative than positive means. Nine out of 16 respondents or 56.25% have identifiably negative ways of reacting to their family situation, ranging from escapism to indifference. Meanwhile, only seven out of 16 respondents or 43.75% have identifiably positive ways of reacting to their family situation, ranging from sublimation to self-help. This only tells that it is more likely for children of separated parents to react negatively to their domestic crisis. Anyway, the crumbling image of a blissful family will recur in their minds and that damage is somewhat irredeemable.
Inadequate Compensation
Most of the respondents also see benefits coming out of the separation situation. 15 out of 17 respondents or 88.24% find perks despite their negative family situation, ranging from independence to financial support. Two out of 17 respondents or 11.76% find no benefit form it whatsoever. Given the kind of benefits drawn out of parents' separation, these benefits still do not outweigh the liabilities that parental separation causes to children's general adjustment. No matter what or how much benefits can be drawn from separations, it cannot be erased that there are far more problems caused by this. Some of the benefits are even forced upon the selves of the children, which cannot be labeled outright helpful at all.
The study shows that separated parents are better off as separated physically because this setup creates less tension as to the adjustment capacity of the children of the involved parents. Any which way, children's relationship with their parents are affected negatively as are their own personal as well as social adjustments. Disadvantages are graver than advantages springing out of parental separation. While coping up is possible for children of separated parents, it does not come easily and even takes long.
It is suggested that there is a need to see parental separation not as an event but as a process which begins long before a parent departs and continues throughout. This is to secure the possibility of fast recovery on the part of the children. It is important to make sure that children know what is happening because separation is a parental decision which inevitably affects children.
Separation for children can be particularly difficult when followed by a number of other changes to the family setting. Financial hardship and parental distress are also associated with continuing problems for children. Many children seek better communication with and informal support from friends and family. Whereas all people experience a number of transitions that can be difficult for them, children of separated parents require unique additional support in order to cope up from their family crisis.
A poor relationship between the separated parents is understood to add to the difficulties in establishing successful arrangements for contact between the child and the parents. However, there are also many practical issues that concern families on separation, such as less trauma and a different means of achieving independence.
The decisions made between parents during and after the separation can become part of the past, but for the children, harm to self-esteem and self-identity, among other personal developments, can be evident for quite some time. Parents need to be a part of their children's lives. Separation affects children in their personal environment, their social environment, and their family structure. The family structure takes on a new definition, differing greatly from the traditional. Separations are highly emotional and can draw children into conflict, which weighs greatly on how the family functions as a unit. Children will go to great lengths in order to gain back their normal family lives.
Any adult who is the product of a broken family understands what separation can do to children. The effects can be long-term, so parents must be aware what their decision will lead to and what to be done about it. If parents work together for their children's adjustment despite their separation, children can develop healthy, emotional attitudes. This does not work for all families, but it reduces the anxiety that the child is experiencing. No matter how harsh the relationship between former partners, if the two work together for the adjustment of their offspring, the impact of the separation can pose little hindrance to the overall development of the children.
Emery, Robert. (1999). Marriage, Divorce, and Children's Adjustment. California : Sage Publications.
Ayalon, Ofra and Adina Flasher (1993). Chain Reaction: Children and Divorce:
Pennsylvania: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Buchanan, Christy, et al. (1996). Adolescents After Divorce. Cambridge : Harvard University Press.

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