The termination of the union of two legally married people before the law is called divorce (Erdim, L., & Ergün, A., 2016). Divorce, which is seen as a problem of modern societies, first starts with an intellectual stage where people should decide to divorce (Geniş, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019). The intellectual stage is followed by an emotional process and the marriage ends with the legal process (Geniş, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019). Divorce damages the family structure as a whole because of conflicts within the family (Bilici, A., 2014). This event, which is the beginning of a complex new structure for each individual in the family, may have more impact on children because they are the ones most likely to suffer from this new situation (Erdim, L., & Ergün, A., 2016). This disintegration of the family structure, which is the main environment of trust for them, may cause some problems of trust and anxiety (Bilici, A., 2014). However, according to the study conducted by Mert Wide, Bengü Toker, and Mehmet Şakiroğlu (2019), we see that divorce not only causes negative consequences for children, but also positive factors. However, the age and gender of children also have a great impact on the results of divorce (Geniş, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019). In the light of these, we can observe that the consequences of divorce can have many different dimensions, not just one (2019).
Effects of Divorce on Children
A number of factors determine how the child will be affected by the divorce, such as the age and gender of the child, the quality of the relationship between the parent and the child after the divorce and parental care, the changes in the child’s lifestyle, the possible new partners of the parents and their new marriages (Korlatt, Y., 2003). Along with these factors, divorce affects children emotionally, behaviorally, socially, academically, psychologically and economically (Geniş, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019). It is very important to get timely support for the children of the divorced family, and if it is not received, the child may feel shame, not feeling safe, and worry or blame the cat because of this situation (Erdim, L., & Ergün, A., 2016). It is also frequently seen that it causes different problems such as tantrums, late socialization, depression, poor self-perception, and breaking the rules (Geniş, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019). It is observed that children experience problems such as a decrease in support from their parents, some financial difficulties, a decrease in academic life success due to reluctance, and the feeling of isolation and loneliness in their relationships with friends (2019).
In cases where children are observed to be adversely affected as a result of divorce, parental conflicts generally occur in front of the child, the attitudes and behaviors of the parents during the divorce process are inadequate and inconsistent, the child is not given the chance to express himself freely and freely about the situation, and he experiences negativities such as changing lifestyle due to financial difficulties. (Wide, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019). The children of divorced families who are exposed to these adversities generally run the risk of appearing as individuals with low self-esteem, low self-confidence, behavioral and emotional problems and low academic success (Erdim, L., & Ergün, A., 2016). However, the rate of experiencing problems such as depression and substance use increases in the following years (2016).
On the other hand, as we mentioned before, divorce, which does not only have negative consequences, can also have positive results if managed correctly. This situation can be observed mostly in parent-child relationships, where the rules and regulations after divorce are made clearly (Korlatt, Y., 2003). The relationship established between the child and the parents has a great impact on the positive effect. Not forcing the children to take sides, giving precise information about the parents not getting together again, not being the child to blame for the divorce, order and stability in the talks with the parents, and finally having an environment where the children can freely express their feelings and thoughts about the divorce, having a quality parent-child relationship are the required qualifications (Genis, M., Toker, B., & Şakiroğlu, M., 2019).
Other factors that determine how and how much will be affected by divorce are the gender and age of the child (Korlatt, Y., 2003). According to the research of Bilir and Dabanlı (1981), the age and gender group most affected by divorce is 5-6 years for girls and 8-10 years for boys. According to Erdim and Ergün, possible symptoms in preschool children aged 5-6 can be listed as introversion, anxiety, disorder in nutrition and sleep, and behavioral disorders such as bedwetting (2016). For 8-10 year olds, anxiety about the future, late socialization and problems in relationships with friends and blaming parents can be examples of problems experienced in this age group (2016).
Conclusion and Recommendations
As a result, the individuals most affected by divorce within the family are children. However, this does not mean that the effect can only be negative. There are many studies showing that divorce also has positive effects on children. This shows that divorce is actually a multifaceted event. In addition, children get different results from divorce due to their age and gender. How the children will be affected by the divorce is determined by the attitudes and behaviors of the parents after the divorce, the understanding and expression environment they create for the child, and the actions that eliminate the trust and uncertainty to the child, such as providing information with clarity and determination for the next process. Therefore, it is a very important factor to manage this process with professional support before it is too late.
In addition, we must recognize that a child growing up in a family of undivorced but conflicted parents can have equally negative consequences. It should be kept in mind that when there is no peace in the house and the child is exposed to conflicts between parents every time, this situation is also likely to be negatively affected. Therefore, taking the right steps in line with the necessary support after the divorce will lead to more positive results in terms of creating a healthier environment for the child than living together without the divorce and forcing the child to a problematic family environment.
For future studies, it can be suggested that parents who prefer not to divorce and children of divorced parents should be analyzed comparatively. At the same time, examining children according to their age groups and gender will be strengthening for the conclusion. In addition, the analyzes to be conducted with the children of parents who received support immediately after the divorce, delayed in receiving support and did not receive support will be useful in observing how these three different conditions affect their children and what symptoms they show.