Divorce Effects on Adolescents

by scase3 on April 14, 2014 - 10:52pm

Many western countries are facing the problem of an increasing divorce rate.  This is unfortunate but it brings about other problems as well.  One of these problems is the effect of joint custody on children.  This means that children are being raised by both parents separately in short periods of time throughout their adolescent years.  A study was done to measure the psychological wellbeing of adolescents through the Leuvens Adolescents and Families Project (LAGO) where 1800 children under joint custody were interviewed each year.  There were many results to this depending on how the custody of a child was split and gender of the child.  The results of this study show that children in joint custody with an average relationship with both parents are at a lessened value of wellbeing than children who haven’t experienced a divorce.  Also a child’s ell being is even lower when they are in full custody of a single parent and don’t develop a strong relationship with the other.

            The main purpose of this study was to show how divorce in a family can affect the mental wellbeing of a child in their adolescent stage.  For this to be a legitimate study, the authors had to make multiple assumptions.  One assumption made was that the children being interviewed were being completely honest about their relationships with parents and also about how they feel about themselves and their own wellbeing.  Another assumption is that when interviewed, there was a steady relationship between the children and both parents.  A child might speak out about a parent if they get into a fight before the interview which could affect the results of the study.  The last assumption that might need to be made is the status of the parent’s divorced relationship.  If the parents are constantly fighting, then the child have probably be less well off than if the parents have a stable causal relationship.  This could affect the experiment by lowering the average wellbeing of children.  Hopefully people will take this line of reasoning seriously so that parents can make a change in their children’s lives.  This will result in an better individual futures as well as a better life for future generations.




Vanassche, S., Sodermans A., Matthijs, K., Swicegood, G. (2013). Commuting between two parental households: The association between joint physical custody and adolescent wellbeing following divorce. Journal of Family Studies, 19(2), 139-158


I like the topic of this post because divorce, as prevalent as it is in American society, has a detrimental effect of childhood development and relationships with the child’s parents. I, for one, have parents that are divorced which made life a little bit harder growing up and having to adapt to blended families. When growing up, I spent half of my time with both parents, just as the participants in the research article. As the author said in this post, children “with an average relationship with both parents are at a lessened value of wellbeing than children who haven’t experienced a divorce”. Wellbeing is broadly defined as the state of being comfortable, happy or healthy. I do believe that spending separated time with a child’s parents weakens the relationship between the child and either parent, from my personal experience. Constantly adapting to a changing family atmosphere created a constant social etiquette in my life; for example, I felt I had to hold in my expression and maintain social etiquette around the blended families.

A noteworthy article by Anderson and Greene (2013) research this specific issue. This topic looked beyond divorce, and researched children in repartnered and remarried families and how they are adapting to the social changes, and the effects that divorce and remarriage has on behaviors. The authors describe some of the common difficult impacts divorce and remarriage has on children: “Across a wide range of studies, children in repartnered and remarried families are at elevated risk for a broad range of social, psychological, and academic difficulties” (Anderson & Greene, 2013, p. 111). Some of these social and psychological difficulties can be attributed to the meeting potential partners during the dating phase and the discomforts associated with this familial change.

Anderson, E. R., & Greene, S. M. (2013). Beyond divorce: Research on children in repartnered and remarried families. Family Court Review, 51, 119-130. doi:10.1111/fcre.12013

This article interested me because when I was in first grade my parents split up and this had different effects on me as I was growing up. My father had an affair and left our family which caused many things to change. He moved out and my mom had sole custody of us. I only saw him a couple times a week and as a result our relationship suffered. I hated my dad’s new wife and resented her kids. Whenever I was with them I had a bad attitude and was disrespectful. Throughout my teenage years I struggled with depression, anxiety, and cutting, among other things. I attribute these afflictions to my parents’ divorce. In your post you kept saying the article claimed that divorce affects a child’s mental wellbeing. I’m curious to know what sort of mental effects they are talking about. I think the phrase “mental wellbeing” is too broad for us to really understand how divorce is affecting these kids. I agree with your analysis about when children are interviewed about their parents their response could be biased depending on whether they are feuding with that parent or if one of their parents is pressuring them into speaking poorly of the other parent. I think that it is completely irresponsible for parents to put their children in the middle of their problems. If they don’t get along they need to keep it between themselves and not make the child feel like they have to choose sides. Divorce effects on children is a huge issue that parents need to think about before they decide to give up on their marriage.

Great summary! If possible, I would've gone into a bit more detail as to what effects the divorce has on the different categories interviewed. I am currently writing a paper about mental health and teenagers, and I recently read a book in order to further understand this issue. It was " Handbook of Depression in Children and Adolescents" by John R. Z. Abela and Benjamin L. Hankin. The authors brought up the point that a lot of youth who experiences depression early on also experienced it when they were adults. Perhaps if the divorce of a child's parents causes a depression in the child, this could be repeated throughout their adult life, which is interesting because it leads to the idea that our decisions as adults will affect our children not only when they are young, but also when they become adults themselves.

About the author