Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

October 5, 2010

Divorce has a devastating effect on children

Nowadays, getting a divorce is more of an expectation rather than a devastation.

When most people hear of marriage failing, they usually think of the two people it mainly involves — the parents — and not their kids. Divorce obviously affects the children, however. People think of how the children are forced to deal with the parents who they have known all their lives and how they don't want to live together anymore,or even love each other; this is usually as far as the thought about the children goes.

Their situation does not end there, however. The kids have to split up their belongings, such as clothes, toys, pets, houses, everything. Some people may think that the parents do most of the splitting and deal with the most stress, but they fail to realize that for children, it's awful to watch your parents fight and split your life into two completely new things.

My parents divorced when I was in the seventh grade. They have equal custody, so I live with my mom one week and my dad another week. Having two different houses and different lives each week is one of the most stressful things that I have had to deal with.

I have to pack a suitcase each week with everything I need for that week and live out of it. I don't have a "home," I have two houses. Many parents have equal custody of their kids and say it's a great thing — if one parent is mad, they send you to the other parent.

This is not a good feeling for the child, though. If one parent doesn't want you, they basically ship you to the other. The parents almost take advantage of the divorce, and it hurts every child this happens to.

Children with divorced parents are more likely to have academic problems, be aggressive, get in trouble, and have self-esteem issues and depression. They are more likely to not get along with their siblings, peers and parents, and even engage in delinquent activities, including early sexual activity and experimentation with illegal drugs (http://extension.unh.edu/family/documents/divorce.pdf).

Having two lives may seem ideal to some; you can escape from your parents basically at any time. This, however, is not based on a personal experience with divorced parents. Many children struggle to balance their lives, wanting to spend more time with their parents, school, work and even trying to help siblings get through the split of their lives. This leads to depression and panic attacks.

Kids feel that they need to step up and help the family, but this does nothing but add to the stress of having two lives. Also, most parents become extremely jealous and almost try to compete with each other. They feel that they want to be "more loved" so they buy more things, take more trips, etc. This leads to bashing of the ex in front of the kids.

For children, especially younger ones, listening to one parent say a terrible thing about the other is one of the hardest things possible to hear. Life does not allow equal time to happen; one parent always will feel "jealous" of the other.

Children always will love their parents and try to divide their time equally, but it never will work like that. Divorce always will be a devastation, but now it is more of an expectation.

Samantha Krause is a senior at Kingsley High School.

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