Cases of divorce have been on the rise among western families, despite several attempts to solve the same, according to research done by Al-Zamil et al (2014). The occurrence of divorce has evidently increased by 40% to 50% among western families. This leaves several questions to be asked, especially regarding the cause of this increase. Divorce cases have been associated with government encouragement through enactment of law that enables people to call it quits when things get bad in families. Other factors that have been explained to cause the many divorce cases are among them pressure from economic conditions. This has pushed women to be away from homes working in order to earn. This does not sink easily into their husbands and becomes a cause of problems that see the couple get apart.
Several approaches for addressing the issue of divorce have been put in place. These are aimed at keeping the couple as a family. The approaches include formulating of marriage savers program, best friends program as well as covenants of community marriage. These all involve having the couple get helped to solve their problems by people that are close to them. The first mentioned program involves intervention of church members, the second involves intervention of best friends and the last involves intervention on close society members, according to seminal studies of Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee (2002, on the adverse effects of separation and impact on the involved families. Since the above three methods involve intervention of a third party in solving the dispute between the couple, this is mediation. All families at some point experience chaos and fights that could result in divorce. These experiences occur in a cycle to all families, as research done by Haley (1973) and further expanded by Carter and McGoldrick (1989) explains, resulting in many breaking up. This essay therefore seeks to analyse the methods of mediation that bring sustainable outcomes for families that are in the divorce process, which could make the process more peaceful and minimize the suffering that could result among children.
The increased focus on the consequences of marital separation on families has generated mixed findings, according to Kim (2012). While a number of studies have pointed out that family members may be able to exhibit good coping skills after divorce, other studies have contended that those affected individuals, especially children, are vulnerable to this negative encounter, including their emotional, behaviour, social, and academic aspects as Boyle (2008) and Taylor and Andrews (2009) observe. The attachment theory posits that emotional bonds are highly important and that fulfilling individuals’ needs for care and affection remains fundamental to one’s being, as research conducted by Fidler&Bala (2010) explains. In particular, the emotional connections that are established between parents and children are crucial for their emotional health (Van Nijnatten&Jongen 2011). When stress and conflict is experienced, children may develop high levels of anxiety and apprehension that they may be deprived of one parent Van Nijnatten & Jongen (2011) explain in their research. While there has been a widespread argument when it comes to attachment, mothers’ remain crucial. This however does not dilute the fact that children need to keep attached to their fathers. Where upon divorce children go with their mother, they lack their father’s attachment, and the mother’s is lost when they are left with the mother. This denies them the opportunity to experience a balanced life. It is this that sees children into getting themselves into relationships in which they do not understand who they are. A case of this is irresponsible fathers in future, and also following their parents’ suit to divorce when they marry, according to Strohschein (2005).
On the whole, the impact of marital separation has widely focused on the wellbeing of children, which has been conceptualized into a number of viewpoints, such as family conflict, parental absence, and financial concerns. When it comes to parental absence, divorce has been found to have negative effects on the social growth of children particularly because of the lack of strong interactions with both of their parents, if both parents have a significant role in the children’s social development as Ziffer, Crawford & Penney-Wietor (2005) explain. Females in most cases experience looses in financial resources after separation, and families with single mothers are likely to go through financial constraints. This is following the aid they get from their husbands in marriage. Consequently, children from such families may experience reduced access to quality education and sufficient services for proper education, according to Pike (2013. The children as well get exposed to wrong company and this increases their likelihood to develop ill habits. With the perspective on family conflict, the problems experienced by children who come from families with separated parents are not caused by family environmental conditions in accordance with Fidler&Bala’s ( 2010) explanation. Rather, the negative environment at home brings these about before and after the family’s divorce. Divorce brings about stress, apprehension, and insecurity in the children, thereby adversely influencing their developmental outcomes (Ziffer et al. 2005).
Due to less resources of the parent that is left to rear the children alone, the education of children is affected (Sun & Li 2009). As compared to children from married families who are staying with both of their biological parents, children who come from single and stepparent families tend to have lower test scores. Their ability to graduate from high school and attend college is reduced, which translates to a lower level of education among them. One of the most common Another adverse outcome of divorce is the deprivation of resources as the parents’ financial and social capitals. Lower living standards have also been associated with these children because of decreased educational budget and increased possibility of experiencing economic deprivation (Lebow&Rekhart 2006). Divorce also reduces the time that a parent is able to allocate his or her children, as she is alone and is out for long hours looking for income. With reduced time and contact between parents, children, and other family members, reduced access to social resources may further contribute to inhibiting a child’s development. While family resources remain crucial for the development of younger family members especially children, these do not necessarily have to be provided solely by the parents (Sun & Li 2008). For instance, supplementary support may be obtained from extended family members and other relatives that can be highly beneficial especially in times of family crisis. Moreover, siblings are likely to offer emotional support to one another when parents have separated. The protection provided by siblings may actually be deemed as a factor that can reduce stress in families that are going through and/or have gone through marital separation. Such functions for stress relief may contribute to the reduction of the unfavourable outcomes of divorce.
Ability of family members to adjust to the new life following divorce comes in a long process. For instance, the influential findings of McConnell and Sim (1999) have highlighted that although outcome research emphasizes the effects of parents’ separation on children, process-related studies draws attention towards the factors that are linked to post-divorce adjustment. Transition difficulties will often be attributed to the parents’ inability to become accustomed to new life changes which can subsequently generate concerns in providing care and support for their family members, particularly the children (Chaitali 2012). The main needs of these individuals to be able to overcome unfavourable emotional and material consequences (e.g. economic hardships, parental conflict) include warmth and intimacy, positive role models, and discipline, among others. These are of great importance because marital separation brings about changes in their families that are shown in the decline of the relationship quality among between parents and/or between parents and their children (Al-Zamil et al. 2012). Such family members are also more exposed to interpersonal conflict and are likely to experience reduced standards of living. Therefore, it remains highly important to further explore the specific effects as well as the overall impact of marital separation to determine appropriate and effective interventions for families undergoing such experiences.
Approaches to mediation for marital separation were conceptualized as divorce education programs with which a number of main thematic patterns were found particularly for parents. These included their personal adjustment with the divorce process, coping and responding to changes, and parenting, as cooperative parenting. Programs focusing on children underlined these young individuals’ responses to divorce, as the impact of separation on children, their developmental phases and aiding children to deal with divorce, as understanding and addressing the distress of children, improving children’s adjustment. Court-focused programs also emphasize mediation and family responsibilities that typically focusing custody and rights for visitation. To promote rebuilding after separation, the use of divorce adjustment groups have been found to be helpful because these provide educational and dynamic experiences for individuals to cope with the all the important aspects of divorce (Taylor & Andrews 2009). Aside from the psychological and social outcomes of the separation, other concerns relating to economic and legal issues should be addressed as well (Weir 2006). Other studies that have drawn attention towards programs offering services for families experiencing marital separation have highlighted ample and relevant findings, particularly on the effectiveness of such interventions. It has also been asserted that group interventions, counselling services, and school-based interventions are of paramount importance for children of divorced parents. The goal of these approaches is to generate feelings of support, make corrections to erroneous understandings of divorce, and offer tools for dealing with the difficulties relating to parental divorce (Pitcher 2010). A unique benefit of group interventions focusing on the children is that a higher number of children from low-income populations can also take part in such programs as opposed to individualized meetings. Schools are natural settings where support can be provided for children (Esmaeili et al. 2011). Problems relating to parental separation may become noticeable in the school settings, resulting to challenges and decreased performance at school.
Group therapy has been found to be a highly effective intervention as it allows children of divorced parents to take part in a wide range of tasks and activities that enable them to develop coping skills associated with improved adjustment to their parents’ separation. As pointed out in the findings of Connolly and Green (2009), protective intervention should be provided for children who are undergoing such group intervention because this will aid them in handling parental separation through the use of specific strategies that occur within the group. As such, children will become more capable of enhancing their skills in problem solving as well as attain positive restructuring, thereby increasing their abilities and confidence in themselves to cope.
In a research conducted by Guli (2005) on parent consultation focusing on emotional, behavioural, and social issues, it was found that conjoint behavioural consultation that involves parents and teachers can be more advantageous in generating favourable changes. The teachers are well positioned to explain what children need after the divorce. Divorcing parents can collaborate with counsellors who can respond to the emotional and psychological needs of their children. Furthermore, parent education groups can provide parents with relevant information based on empirical evidence with regards to the impact of separation and divorce on their families. There has been empirical support in terms of the effectiveness of parent groups and their impact on the reduction of psychological problems and development of competencies after separation. Randomized and experimental studies such as that of Wolchik, Sandler, Weiss and Winslow (2007) have shown the useful effects of parent groups on the relationship quality between the child and the mother and/or father, as well as discipline and psychological health outcomes among the children.
While there has been various intervention programs for family members affected by parental separation, particularly the children, analysis of results can be reviewed further. Looking into the findings of empirical evaluation research, it was found that results have been commonly consistent and highlights the effectiveness of group-based and school-based interventions for families experiencing parental separation (Cookston, Sandler, Braver &Genalo 2007). Nonetheless, such programs are in need of further research and evaluation particularly because many of these studies have been associated with methodological issues, such as an emphasis on random sampling, lack of control groups, inadequate ability to replicate findings, and the integrity of the intervention, which can influence the level of rigor of such studies (Wilkinson 2005). There has also been limited research that draws attention towards specific components of change and considers potential intervening constructs, as socio-economic conditions, ethnic group, and specific attributes of family members. In analysing interventions relating to the parents and to the children, it has been argued that child-focused approaches are more effective in reducing the negative effects of divorce on children, in modifying their attitudes towards such experience, and in reducing disturbances such as problematic behaviours outside of home. However, because certain approaches are limited in terms of their effectiveness on children’s coping with parental separation, the establishment and assessment of more comprehensive programs are of paramount importance.
On the whole, this paper has placed emphasis on the impact of marital separation on their families along with the interventions that aid in reducing the negative affects of divorce and supporting family members especially children to cope with these experiences. The separation of parents brings about changes in the environment of their children, particularly in terms of the relationship quality between the child and the parents, experience of interpersonal conflict, and reduction in the standards of living. As families go through a series of processes that affect their relationships and the adjustment of the children, family and life circumstances during and after divorce are expected to change as well. Marital separation is expected to bring about adverse economic consequences particularly a decline in resources for young family members’ educational development, hence an increased dependence on welfare. With negative changes in socio-economic status, children from divorced families will experience disadvantages particularly in terms of educational achievement and social development. Regarding emotional effects, these can manifest in children’s psychological adjustment, aggression, behavioural problems, distress symptoms, and negative feelings about one. Due to these considerable effects of marital separation on families, it is of paramount importance to provide effective interventions and mediation approaches that can contribute to the achievement of long-term outcomes. A comprehensive evaluation of the specific situation of every family, for example, remains to be a crucial process that should be founded on concrete factors as opposed to focusing on assumptions. Group-based interventions for parents and children, parent education programs, and school-based counselling services for children have all been found to have a significant impact on improving family and life circumstances, such as parents’ increased understanding of post-divorce processes, children’s performance in school and reduction in their behavioural problems. However, there remains a need to conduct extensive studies that address the methodological issues attributed to past studies in order to determine the interventions and approaches that limit producing sustainable outcomes for families when going through divorce.
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