This paper will look at the consequences of divorce on family life.
The foundation of every society is its families. When two parents split up, a family is undermined. Divorce is a terrible scourge which forces families to move out of houses, sometimes change cities or schools, and split into two separate families. For everyone involved this is a severe and traumatic situation.
Children are impressionable. They are starting their journey on the path of life and are deeply sensitive to the world around them. They seek patterns and they seek to understand why certain patterns have certain results. Although they may not understand the huge complications underwriting our society, they nevertheless have an inkling of how are world is structured and determined, the family provides this context as does their parents marriage. Divorce can have a serious effect on this. As Socrates writes:
‘Now, do you appreciate that the most important stage of any enterprise is the beginning, especially when something you and sensitive is involved? You, that’s when most of its formation takes place, and it absorbs every impression that anyone wants to stamp upon it. . . . Shall we, then, casually allow our children to listen to any old stories, made up by just anyone, and to take into their minds views which, on the whole, contradict those we’ll want them to have as adults?’1
In the Republic, the guardians are educated as children by the stories they are told. These stories provide moral justification for the actions and inactions of the people around them and are instrumental in their understanding of their own role in the world. But they must not be poems or fanciful stories, Socrates insists. They must tell young people about the truth of the world, not of lies. It is vitally important for parents who are having a divorce to be honest with their children. Lies do not help anyone.
Divorce is a traumatic experience. It affects the foundation of society: