Post-Divorce Living Conditions and Child Maturation

Jessica Crabb, The Master's College

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Abstract Research suggests that the impacts of divorce are far reaching because the nature of divorce changes the family unit and creates new transition points in the life course of the individuals involved. A review of the literature indicated that many changes occur in the lives of parents and children after divorce, including negative changes such as high levels of stress for parents and children, emotional peaks and plummets, regressive behaviors in children, and alteration/strain in the relationships between parents and children. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the living conditions in post-divorce families affect the child’s maturation. Pursuant to the treatment, data were collected through a seven-question survey instrument that employed a Likert-type scale to measure the responses of participants from the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys. The survey instrument was designed to measure what changes were perceived to occur in the lives of children and parents after divorce. The results of the study indicated that the changes in the life of the parent do impact the development of the child. Those surveyed believed that the living conditions in post-divorce families will influence the maturation of a child.

Introduction Divorce is a common occurrence in the United States. Not only is it common, but “virtually every American’s life is touched by divorce” (Johnson & Rosenfeld, 1990, p. 15). The process impacts more than the two individuals involved in the divorce. Oftentimes children experience the tensions caused by divorce, as children are most shaped and influenced in their home environment, with parents as the primary influence for the earliest years. In all ages, but particularly in younger children, divorce can be seen to “play a dominant role in how he or she copes with the emotions and conflicts of the present” (Vigeveno & Claire, 1979, p. 11). Many researchers suggest “the process of divorce brings about many changes in children's lives, such as changes in contact with each parent and changes in parental emotions and behavior” (Leon, 2003, ¶ 3). Researchers also suggest that a “parent’s emotional adjustment and parenting behavior [are] likely mediators of the effects of divorce on children” (Wood, 2005, p. 122). Children living in post-divorce families are likely to have many changes in their development based on these factors. However, the effects and the living conditions in post-divorce families were unknown.

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