The Effects of Divorce on Young Children

Divorce is best described as a process of change which extends over time and across a number of areas of family functioning.In divorce, there are differences in both family processes and in the children's accommodation to change.There is a definite relationship between divorce and some psychological problems among children of divorced families.The relationship between divorce and children's adjustment sparked theories that focus solely on the developmental importance of a healthy family structure.There are six basic areas of human functioning that researchers feel are effected by the divorce of a child's parents early in life.They are (1) the increased use of mental health services; (2) externalizing problems, such as delinquency, aggression, and disobedience; (3) internalizing problems, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem; (4)intellectual and academic functioning; (5) pro-social skills; and (6) functioning during adult life.
Utilization of Mental Health Services
There are at least two broad reasons that the research on the relation between parental divorce and the utilization of
mental health services is significant.First, the use of such services is an important indicator by itself, as clinicians have observed that children from divorced families are over-represented in outpatient mental health clinics.Second, many studies of divorce have focused on clinic-referred children, but there are a number of problems in generalizing from such samples.Clinic-referred children may be self-selected on variables that cannot be readily identified.In addition to problematic child behavior, factors such as parental guilt, expectancy bias, or the stress of single parenting may increase the likelihood of referral to a mental health professional.
Because of the problems in generalizing from clinic samples, it is essential that non-clinic groups be stu…

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