Common Behavioral Problems of Children Placed in Foster Care The decision to end a marriage may come easily for some couples; however, the decision may come with much consideration for you. If you have young children, your negotiations likely revolve around custody arrangements and child support. Significance Divorce causes a tremendous upheaval in families.
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Sign up for our twice-monthly email newsletter. My name is Gordon Berlin. I am the executive vice president of MDRC, a unique nonpartisan social policy research and demonstration organization dedicated to learning what works to improve the well-being of disadvantaged families.
We strive to achieve this mission by conducting real world field tests of new policy and program ideas using the most rigorous methods possible to assess their effectiveness.
I am honored to be invited to address your committee about what we know and do not know about the effects of marriage and divorce on families and The impact of divorce on child development and about what policies and programs might work to promote and strengthen healthy marriages, especially among the poor.
My goal is to briefly summarize the evidence in three areas: The central focus of my remarks will be to explicate the role that marital education, family counseling, and related services might play in promoting and strengthening healthy marriages and to discuss what we know about the potential of strategies that seek to ameliorate the key stressors for example, job loss, lack of income, domestic violence, and childbearing that make it difficult to form marriages in the first place or act as a catalyst that eventually breaks up existing marriages.
To summarize my conclusions: First, children who grow up in an intact, two-parent family with both biological parents present do better on a wide range of outcomes than children who grow up in a single-parent family. Single parenthood is not the only, nor even the most important, cause of the higher rates of school dropout, teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, or other negative outcomes we see; but it does contribute independently to these problems.
Neither does single parenthood guarantee that children will not succeed; many, if not most, children who grow up in a single-parent household do succeed.
Third, we do not know whether these same marital education services would be effective in reducing marital stress and eventual divorce among low-income populations or in promoting marriage among the unmarried.
Low-income populations confront a wide range of stressors that middle-class families do not. The evidence is limited, and mixed, on whether strategies designed to overcome these stressors, for example, by providing job search assistance or by supplementing low earnings, rather than relying solely on teaching marital communication and problem-solving skills would also increase the likelihood that low-income couples would marry or that married couples would stay together.
Fourth, to find out whether and what types of policies and programs might successfully strengthen marriage as an institution among low-income populations as well as among a wide variety of ethnically and culturally diverse populations, our national focus should be on the design, implementation, and rigorous evaluation of these initiatives.
The rationale is reasonably straightforward: About a third of all children born in the United States each year are born out of wedlock. Similarly, about half of all first marriages end in divorce, and when children are involved, many of the resulting single-parent households are poor.
For example, less than 10 percent of married couples with children are poor as compared with about 35 to 40 percent of single-mother families. Moreover, research shows that even after one controls for a range of family background differences, children who grow up living in an intact household with both biological parents present seem to do better, on average, on a wide range of social indicators than do children who grow up in a single-parent household McLanahan and Sandefur, For example, they are less likely to drop out of school, become a teen parent, be arrested, and be unemployed.
Put another way, equalizing income and opportunity do improve the life outcomes of children growing up in single-parent households, but children raised in two-parent families still have an advantage. If the failure of parents to marry and persistently high rates of divorce are behind the high percentage of children who grow up in a single-parent family, can and should policy attempt to reverse these trends?
Since Daniel Patrick Moynihan first lamented what he identified as the decline of the black family in his report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, marriage has been a controversial subject for social policy and scholarship.
The initial reaction to Moynihan was harsh; scholars argued vehemently that family structure and, thus, father absence was not a determinant of child well-being. But then in the s, psychologists Wallerstein and Kelly, ; Hetherington, began producing evidence that divorce among middle-class families was harmful to children.
Renewed interest among sociologists and demographers Furstenberg and Cherlin, in the link between poverty and single parenthood soon emerged, and as noted above, that work increasingly began building toward the conclusion that family structure did matter McLanahan and Sandefur, Of course, the debate was not just about family structure and income differences; it was also about race and gender.
When Moynihan wrote in24 percent of all births among African-Americans occurred outside of marriage. Today, the black out-of-wedlock birthrate is almost 70 percent, and the white rate has reached nearly 24 percent.
If single parenthood is a problem, that problem cuts across race and ethnicity. But the story has nuance.
In fact, there is some evidence that second marriages can actually be harmful to adolescents. Moreover, marriage can help children only if the marriage is a healthy one.
Marital hostility is associated with increased aggression and disruptive behaviors on the part of children which, in turn, seem to lead to peer rejection, academic failure, and other antisocial behaviors Cummings and Davies, ; Webster-Stratton, While our collective hand-wringing about the number of American births that occur out-of-wedlock is justified, what is often missed is that the birthrate among unmarried women accounts for only part of the story.
In fact, birthrates among unmarried teens and African-Americans have been falling — by a fourth among unmarried African-American women sincefor example Offner, Because the nonmarital birth ratio is a function of 1 the out-of-wedlock birthrate births per 1, unmarried women2 the marriage rate, and 3 the birthrate among married women births per 1, married women - the share of all children born out of wedlock has risen over the last thirty years, in large measure, because women were increasingly delaying marriage, creating an ever larger pool of unmarried women of childbearing age, and because married women were having fewer children.
Indeed, families acted to maintain their standard of living in the face of stagnant and falling wages, earnings, and incomes during the s and s by having fewer children and sending both parents into the workforce, a strategy that undoubtedly has increased the stress on low-income two-parent families Levy,and that contributed to the rise in out-of-wedlock births as a proportion of all births.
Concern about these trends in out-of-wedlock births and divorce, coupled with the gnawing reality that child poverty is inextricably bound up with family structure, has encouraged conservatives and some liberals to focus on marriage as a solution. Proponents of this approach argued that many social policies — welfare and tax policy, for example — were actually anti-marriage, even if research only weakly demonstrated that the disincentives to marry embedded in these policies actually affected behavior.
Moreover, they maintained that social policy should not be neutral — it should encourage and support healthy marriages — and they stressed the link between child poverty and single parenthood and the positive child effects associated with two-parent families. The focus on marriage was met with skepticism by others.This article summarizes many of the common psychological and emotional effects divorce has on men, women and children.
The divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Considering the large rate of divorce in this country, the effects of divorce vary depending on the development of the child during the first year prior to the divorce.
The use of mental health professionals as the advisors of the court review where the child should be placed in the best custody. During divorce and separation, the child's emotional well-being is at considerable risk." The group suggests some steps to promote emotional well-being to allow your child to develop a sense of security for coping with problems and challenges throughout his life.
Considering the large rate of divorce in this country, the effects of divorce vary depending on the development of the child during the first year prior to the divorce. The use of mental health professionals as the advisors of the court review where the child should be placed in the best custody.
Divorce can impact the social development of children at each child development stage in a negative way. However, it does not have to be the case. When you understand the most important needs of you children at every age, you know where you need to pay attention to.
Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Andrew J. Cherlin and Kathleen E. Kiernan, "The Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on the Mental Health of Young Adults: A Developmental Perspective," Child Development 66 ():