"My life sort of changed at that moment. Like I used to always be happy and suddenly I was sad." Eight year old Tapp Francke (Francke 15) looks back to what she may now consider the worst sit down meal in her life. During that meal not only did Francke find out that her parents were going to get a divorce, but she also became part of the 40 percent of children in America that experience a parental divorce. From infants to adolescents divorce has many negative effects on children. A child at any age who experiences a parental divorce confronts many emotional and behavioral changes.
The infant living inside his mother's womb may suffer from his parent's divorce in many harmful ways (61). Once the mother's emotions, such as rage, anxiety, or fear become too overwhelming, the infant's nervous system may start pumping extra chemicals into his own blood stream while his adrenal glands send out a variety of emergency hormones (61).
According to Lisa B. Francke, an author and editor for the New York magazine: .
The damage to the baby can be substantial if the pregnant women's stress continues throughout pregnancy. The baby is apt to be born either prematurely or with a low birth weight. And that's just the beginning. Babies born to unhappy, distressed women are often unhappy and distressed themselves. They tend to be irritable, hyperactive, and squirmy .They have difficulty sleeping, cry excessively, and have an unusual need to be held. (62) .
Divorce may also result in parenting difficulties, such as under parenting or over parenting the child. Children may become under parented if their mother is experiencing distress. The mother may try to keep herself occupied, frequently crying or sleeping a great amount. While the mother is trying to deal with her problems, the child's physical and emotional needs are not being fulfilled, therefore the child is being under parented.