Presentation on theme: "Divorce Rates and trends Societal factors (handout) Individual risk factors (handout) Divorce process Impact on children."— Presentation transcript:
Divorce Rates and trends Societal factors (handout) Individual risk factors (handout) Divorce process Impact on children
Divorce rate increased 1900-1970 Shift from fault to no-fault system Shifts in marriage expectations: institutional to companionship to individual Greater acceptance of and demand for divorce
Grounds for divorce Traditional (fault) system: Guilt Contest No-fault divorce: California est. in 1970 Irreconcilable differences May still involve contested issues May disadvantage women, children
Emotional Divorce (Vaughan) Some stages in uncoupling: Secrets Planning Confrontation Adjustment Initiator completes stages first. Partner may be unprepared.
Divorce and Children Factors affecting children’s experience of divorce: Age: Young children “act out” more. May blame self. May adjust better overall. Sex: Boys “act out” more. Some evidence that kids do better with same-sex parent. Support Network: Other adults. Parents’ attitudes: Amount of destructive conflict. Using kids as pawns. Grow up too fast. Financial Situation: Mom and kids lose out
Co-parental divorce Before: Co-parenting After: Parallel parenting - parents operating separately Result: Dads “fade out” 1991 study: 54% saw their “several times a year” or less 31% once a year or less
Why Dads Disappear Avoid contact w/ ex-wife Can’t or won’t pay child support Hard to be part-time parent; feel left out Starting new family Inability to relate to children directly instead of thru mother
A Chain of Negative Events 1. Loss of noncustodial parent 2. Loss of home, neighborhood, school. 3. Financial stress: Lose husband’s income Less than half receive any economic support Average mother’s standard of living goes down 30% 4. “Loss” of custodial parent due to increased work hours, emotional stress – “diminished parenting.” 5. Loss of childhood, problems in later relationships.
Long-term effects on children Wallerstein: lasting difficulty in personal relationships British study: Mental health somewhat worse Most problems were in troubled families Majority adjust well Good divorce is better than bad marriage
Making divorce easier on children Avoid custody conflicts or using custody as bargaining: Joint legal custody as default Hands-on care as standard for physical custody Custodial parent keeps home Improve child support system. Mandatory counseling for parents and kids Workplace reforms to help single parents. Divorce support groups in schools.
Characteristics of single parent families Created by divorce, premarital birth Households may include unrelated members Temporary
Outcomes for single parents Financial: Lower income Career sacrifices Lack of sufficient child support (handout) Parental Sibling rivalry Parent rivalry Raising opposite sex child
Outcomes for single parents Social: Finding time for social life Guilt Child’s acceptance of dating Child’s attachment to dating partners
Remarriage rates & trends over 50% of all marriages About 2/3 of divorced persons remarry Younger women Women with 3+ children Whites More likely to end in divorce
Why remarriage is “riskier” Selection effect Foundation of 1 st marriage Repeat earlier mistakes High pressure to succeed Presence of ex-spouse Presence of children
Stepfamilies 23% of married couple households Most common: biological mother-stepfather or joint biological Redefined to include cohabitating couples: 25% of stepfamilies are cohabiting Common pattern among African Americans
Characteristics of stepfamilies May be born of a crisis Not all members biologically related Blood ties may take priority Parent-child relationship precedes husband- wife Diversity of beliefs, values = more conflict Children get extra set of relatives
Challenges for stepparents Little or no legal authority Children challenge authority Role is ill-defined, much variation Parent? Friend? Outsider? Family must negotiate roles (2-4 years) Young children may accept easier
Challenges for stepchildren Conflicts w/stepparent over discipline or authority (80%) Divided loyalties (50%) Step-sibling relationships Feeling abandoned
Stages in adjustment Transition Step-parent as “polite outsider” Need to establish boundary around marriage Stabilization Step-parent as “intimate outsider”
Primacy of Private Family Three themes of change Emphasis on personal fulfillment Women’s economic independence Worsening economic prospects of young men All make marriage more fragile
As a result… Kinship is created, not born More subject to change, disruption Economic advancement for women No longer have legal protection of marriage Possible disruption, trauma for children May not have lasting negative impact