Broken Family Literature Review

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More than fifty years of literature provides an amplitude of documented, researched evidence of the effects of divorce and separation on the family: children and parents, grandparents and extended family, community and school, and society at large. Indeed, the family is increasingly the subject of public discourse in Western society with concerns ranging from the changing definition of family itself, to specific issues, such as, demographic trends, employment, gender relationships, human rights, health, low income, education, crime, marital dissolution, and social capital (McKeown & Sweeney, 2001). It would seem reasonable to assume that this array of literature and debate would thoroughly inform policy makers and legislators, but in reality, …show more content…

Research evidence suggests that divorce has a significant impact on children’s well-being both in the short and long term. Immediately following divorce/separation, children often experience a significantly reduced standard of living, emotional pain and the loss of important relationships (Thompson & Amato, 1999). A meta-analysis of 92 studies carried out in the 1980’s (Amato & Keith, 1991) and of a further 67 studies from the 1990’s (Amato, 2001) compared children from divorced families with children from intact families. The children from divorced families had significantly lower scores on a range of outcomes including educational achievement, psychological adjustment, self-concept, behaviour, social competence and long-term health. Children from separated families are more likely to suffer psychological symptoms such as dependency, low self- esteem, anxiety and depression (Di Stefano & Cyr, 2014). Children often experience ineffective or diminished parenting following divorce (Hetherington, 1999). The loss of important relationships, particularly for children of divorce can be an emotionally upsetting consequence, and Braver and O’Connell suggest that two to three years after divorce, 18-25% of children have no contact with their fathers (Braver & O’Connell, 1999). These children not only experience the breakup of their families but also the …show more content…

Kelly (2003) also finds that the majority of children do not continue to have psychological adjustment difficulties. A number of predictive factors for good adjustment to changed family circumstances mitigate the negative impact. Mooney et al. (2009) suggest that supporting maternal mental health, facilitating cooperative parenting between parents, enabling good communication between parents and their children, reducing and managing parental conflict, encouraging good parent-child relationships and adopting strategies to ease financial hardship can all work to lessen the stress of divorce and help family members in the transition process. Amato et al, (2011) cautions that the notion of a “good” divorce with interventions that help maintain strong parent-child relationships are undoubtedly of value but may be insufficient to counter the entire range of problems associated with divorce. He further supports an emerging focus on the number of family structure transitions rather than on divorce as a single event (Amato, 2010). Divorce is a process, not a single event: it is the first step in a series of family transitions (Amato & Sobolewski,

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