One out of every two marriages today ends in divorce. Many of those marriages involve children. Parents who are getting a divorce are frequently concerned about the effect on their children. During the time of a divorce the parents are certainly preoccupied with their problems but remain the most important people in their children's lives. The divorce may be devastating or relieving to a couple, children are frightened and confused by the terrible threat to their security. Some parents are so troubled that they may turn to their children for emotional support. .
There are three broad stages in the process of dealing with divorce (Wallerstein in Slife, 1998). The child watches and experiences each of these stages as well as the parent. The first stage is the acute phase . It begins at the decision of separation and is marked by escalating conflict between adults. They react with severe ego regression and sharp disagreement to end the marriage. Children are generally involved in this parental distress. Children are likely to be terrified by their protective figures. This stage ends within the first two years after the divorce. .
The second stage is the transitional stage. This stage is characterized by quests into new and more committed relationships. New work, school, location and lifestyles are also common. This phase may contain alternating success and failure and encouragement and discouragement. Children observe and take part in changes. This phase lasts several years. The last phase is the post divorce phase. During this phase adults gain a fairly stable, single parent or remarried household. Sometimes children are upset following remarriage.
Some people such as David Demo and Alan Acock (in Slife, 1998) believe that divorce in most cases has little negative effects of children. Evidence shows that after the primary trauma of divorce, the children are as emotionally well adjusted in single mother families as they are in two parent families.