13 Jan The Ashes of Divorce
Divorce is like a fire that burns through a family destroying it, leaving only ashes behind when the flames die out. It probably isn’t hard for you to picture someone in your life that has been affected in some way by the fire of divorce. They could have gone through a divorce themselves, are a child of divorce, or have friends and family members that have had to sweep up their lives in the ashes of divorce. In the ashes of a divorce, a family must find hope to create something new, looking toward the future instead of the destruction of the past. Parents might want to ask themselves if they are willing to subject their children to that level of destruction.
The fire of divorce affects the community, including extended family members, employers, a child’s school, and friends/neighbors. Few emerge from a divorce un-scorched. It is not the divorced couple who is the most affected by it; it is the children of that now broken family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fifty percent of all first marriages end in divorce and every remarriage after the first one only increases the odds of the likelihood of that marriage ending in divorce. Children of divorce are fifty percent more likely to get a divorce themselves because they see divorce as an acceptable option of ending a marriage. The rates of divorce have dropped over the years since around 1970 when the rates sky rocketed to a new high because of No-Fault Divorce allowing people to, unilaterally, get a divorce without a reason. But in spite of that drop, divorce rates still remain high compared to other nations around the world. The United States has the most broken and restricted families than any other country in the world.
Over twenty years ago a young mother made a decision that would affect her and her new daughter’s lives by getting a divorce. She wanted to raise her baby girl in a loving and nurturing environment where she could grow and develop into strong and bright young women and that would only happen if she left their current home situation. That courageous young woman was my mother. Therefore, my life has been greatly impacted by divorce since I am a child of it. I have seen divorce touch many families that I know in both a destructive manner that scatters the ashes left over from a divorce and also the hopeful manner where family members work to rise above it.
The Circle of Divorce
In a divorce the children are the ones who are the most affected and not the parents who initiated in the divorce and fractured the family. The fire of divorce scorches the children differently and can have life-long scars. Children experience both immediate short-term effects and long-term effects that develop later on in their life after a divorce. Also, children are affected differently because every child react differently to their parents’ divorce. Every family has a different situation. Short-term effects are things like acting out and doing poorly in school and can be noticed almost immediately. But, there are many hidden long-term effects that do not appear until later in the child’s life.
One of these long-term effects is problems with all of their romantic relationships they later on in their life. A 2011 study found that the perception of divorce a child has of divorce is linked to relationship dissolution and attitudes of divorce are linked to the commitment they have in a romantic relationship. Children of divorce have a hard time committing to someone in a romantic relationship if their parents’ divorce ended very badly. However, if the child views the divorce as a good thing this is an effect that may not have a huge effect on their lives. Another study found that those who have a personal experience with divorce have a different view towards the possibility of a happy marriage and the option of divorce.
A family changes after a divorce from being one whole family unit to a family with two parts: the mom part and the dad part. Those two parts have the possibility to change over time as parents remarry and create new families all together. In 2007 a study found that children are affected by how their parents interact together after the divorce and the child’s individual relationships with each of the parents after the divorce is finalized. Children cannot change the fact their parents are divorce; but, they can change their relationship with each parent after the divorce. It affects a child when they see their parents fighting every time they see each other after the divorce is finalized. Children are often placed in the position of being forced to pick sides. Children are the ones required to make the major transition as they are shuffled around between the parents. The children see the destruction of divorce long after the initial flames have burned out.
There is Hope
Just like a fire can burn away the rock in ore and refining metal left over; a divorce can strengthen a family by taking away parts that are slowing destroying it from within. Sometimes a divorce is the only way to solve problems that plague a family. After going through a divorce, there can be doors to hope and windows of opportunities that did not exist before. I know this happened for my mother after her divorce; she is happily remarried and has two more children and thus created a new family. There can be hope in the ashes that are left over from the destructive fire of divorce, but it must never be forgotten that all involved will continue to carry the scars.
Ariel Owen is a recent graduate of BYU-I with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage & Family Science. She is originally from Orlando, Florida. Ariel hopes to be able to educate and help families avoid the whirlwinds of family breakdown.