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Consequences of Divorce for Children - Essay Example

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Consequences of Divorce for Children

Without touch, even physiological systems will not function properly since the human skin is the first to develop and is the largest and the neediest sense organ (Linn et al., 1997: 29). Children in divorce-wreaked abodes generally lack parental touch due to the distress that the hurt and separation caused both parents, who need time alone and go through a process of grief, especially for one party who felt cheated. Studies of adolescents found a positive correlation between drug abuse and home environments with having little or no touch (Huttmann, 1993:168). Similarly, amidst the fact that a mother's care is critical during infancy, infants need touch and care from their fathers too, and little or lack of it will result to "abnormal" bonding behavior, such as the high amount of incestuous behavior among stepfathers who never had the chance to bond with their stepdaughters as infants (Hamilton,1985: 10). Studies show that when fathers interact with their infants, those infants thrive and grow up securely surrounded by the love of two parents rather than just one. The rate of development of children who frequently stayed with their fathers rather than just their mothers is found to be high (ibid). On the contrary, infants who are seldom touched tend to develop slower and are passive (Linn, et al., 1997: 30). Hence, it is apparent that in homes where the parents decide for divorce, the child is usually deprived of the needed frequent touch from each parent, and since legal laws provide the custody of children to the mother, it is often the father's touch that is missed. Based on this discussion, when the most striking impact of divorce happens at the time when the child is in infancy stage, the parents' lack of attention due to the grief that divorce had caused results in slow physical, social, and even mental development for the child (ibid).
Erikson describes children in their early childhood as experiencing a conflict between autonomy vs. shame and doubt. Autonomy develops as the child tries to develop his own will and tries to get what he wants, while shame and doubt are the result if the child chooses his own will and consequently disappoints his mother (Cordes, 1985: 33). However, Erikson clarifies that when the child chooses his own will, he does not disconnect from his mother but rather seeks a separate sense of self in order to relate to her in new ways (Stern, 1985: 10). It may be inferred that children at this stage are learning many things; thus, they become their own person. They are learning how to talk, walk, and go where they want. Piaget posits that children in this stage can understand that divorce is something bad, that somebody must be responsible for this, and the concept of guilt does not enter their minds (Jensen and Mckee, 2003). Hence, during this stage, divorce is not related to guilt. Children make judgments from their own viewpoints and cannot easily imagine that there are other judgments other than their own (ibid).
Erikson posits that it is important that at this stage of the child, parents are firm but loving so that the child will not grow into a little Hitler if they are too permissive, or will not be deeply hurt if they always say no to everything he wants. If children do not sense that they have a will, then anything ...Show more

Summary

Children are affected by the divorce of their parents, contrary to a general perception that children do not mind their parents' separation for as along as there is a regular visit from one of them, usually the father. Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget, in their theory of psychosocial development and cognitive development respectively, posited several life stages, which an individual goes through…
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