Divorce Effects on Children’s Anxiety

Published: 2021-07-28 14:25:06
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Category: Psychology

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The effects of divorce are a sensitive topic among our society. It is practically a known fact that children with a broken family home in their early childhood can have long time effects in their adult life. This experiment is observing the harmful effects on children’s anxiety with divorced parents. Very early on in the baby stage, children are well known for getting attached to their nurturing mothers (Ainsworth, 1963). The healthy dynamic of a mother and children being attached is highly essential. In order for this experiment to be conducted, previous theories were analyzed and researched was conducted in order to form this current experiment being done. The attachment theory plays a factor in this mother-child bonding experience (Ainsworth, 1963). The attachment theory consists of infants having numerous components of instinctual responses that can bind the infant to the mother and the other way around Ainsworth, 1963).
Examples include clinging, sucking, following, and the signaling behaviors of crying and smiling (Ainsworth, 1963). There was research on multiple children and mothers and ended up having three different infant attachment patterns (Ainsworth, 1963). First, the securely attached infants cry for a little bit, and they seemed satisfied to seek interest in the presence of their mother (Ainsworth, 1963). The second was the insecurely attached infants who would cry more frequently, although they were held by their mothers and they sought very little as well (Ainsworth, 1963). Last but not least, the not-yet attached infants demonstrated no discrepant behavior to their mother (Ainsworth, 1963). In today’s society, it is common to meet another person with divorced parents than married parents. Even though much research has been done examining the effects of divorced parents on adolescent and adult children, not much research has been conducted on infants and young children. The sample size of this study included 73 never-married mothers and 97 separated mothers (Clarke, 2000). The groups consisted of 170 members that were conditionally, and randomly selected from the two-parent families (Clarke, 2000). Their study concluded that the children in the one parent families did far less good than those in the two-parent families regarding cognitive differences (Clarke, 2000). They were each tested on assignments of cognitive and social abilities, as well as problem behaviors, attachment security, and their behavior with their mothers (Clarke, 2000). The main focus of this experiment is solely tied to the behavioral characteristics of the child’s anxiety and possibly observing their adult life (Clarke, 2000).
This theory correlates with this experiment because the attachment aspect of the theory specifies the adverse outcomes of the child’s need for love and support (Clarke, 2000). If the child is neglected, then the likelihood of that child being happy will be less. Therefore the adulthood of that child being neglected will experience more negative effects of mental disorders (Clarke, 2000). Further studies have concluded that the grieving process a child is confronted with during a divorce, is comparable to the grief a child who has lost a parent experiences (Wallerstein, 1987). They feel like the family security they once possessed, has now vanished and those effects will have devastating consequences in their later years (Wallerstein, 1987). Unfortunately, when divorce is encountered, the father is usually the one separated from the family, leaving the children, especially boys, vulnerable (Wallerstein, 1987). What some might find puzzling is the fact that children intensely miss their fathers, regardless of their treatment they received (Wallerstein, 1987).
At the time of a divorce, young children often experience hardship with adapting to changes and have trouble expressing their emotions (Pruett, Williams, Insabella, & Little, 2003). The previous research stated that in their experiment their findings of children with broken family homes performed more poorly across different age groups regarding the tests of cognitive abilities they took. Also, maternal depression, anxiety, and stimulation and support were significant predictors (Pruett, Williams, Insabella, & Little, 2003).
In a meta-analysis of recent research, it discussed that a significant component that was consisted of Bowlby’s attachment theory was that if the child is going through the early child-caregiver attachment it is going to make a reflection in the aspect of the specific interpersonal relationships the child will face throughout his/her life(Atkinson, 2014). This study talked about how the correlation that the early-child parent who ends up bonding were related to the children’s to their current relationships that they have with their peers(Pallini, Baiocco, Schneider, Madigan, & Atkinson, 2014). The researchers in this study were also assuming that there is a link between peer relations and the attachment theory was going to be settled (Pallini, Baiocco, Schneider, Madigan, & Atkinson, 2014). Also, cultural factors came into play as well in this study (Pallini, Baiocco, Schneider, Madigan, & Atkinson, 2014)
Also, in another meta-analysis the researchers focused on how parents are co-parenting would be different once they are divorced and how that will affect their child(Leclair, St-Amand, Bussieres,2018). This meta-analysis conducted 13 studies that were going to first view the significance between the child custody and the post-separation co-parenting also known as (conflict and cooperation) (Leclair, St-Amand, Bussieres,2018). There is now a clear understanding as to why post separation co-parenting is known for being one of the most dominant factors that explains why and what the psychological adjustments of families who are separating or already separated will be going through(Amato, 2001; Jamison, Coleman, Ganong, & Feistman, 2014; Kelly, 2012; Kelly & Emery, 2003; Lamb, 2012). The research team will determine the two-level effect on how the anxiety level with children who have divorced parents will have a higher level of anxiety than children who have married parents. The research team will also determine the three-level effect on how the amount of time spent with mom will have a higher level of anxiety than spent with dad. The main interaction will be there will be a higher level of anxiety with children with divorced parents and they will also have a higher level of anxiety spent with mom overall.

Methods
Participants
The study will consist of 60 participants (20 males, 20 females, and 20 children). The mean age will be ranging from 10-year-old to late 40-year-old adults. The participants will be enlisted by completing a questionnaire that will indicate if they participate in the research, they will be compensated for ten dollars plus a five-dollar gift card of their favorite fast food restaurant.
Materials
Separation Anxiety Scale: It is consisted of two subscales (Vanderlaan, 2015). One is the worry subscale and the other is the separation subscale(Vanderlaan,2015). The worry subscale is about how the child feels about their parents and how worried they get when they are not with them (Vanderlaan, 2015). It has 8 items that will have responses ranging from 1 (not true) to 5 (very true) (Vanderlaan, 2015). The separation subscale is about how the child feels about being separated from their parents. It has 5 items that will have responses ranging from 1(not true) to 5 (very true) (Vanderlaan,2015). The high score in this scale is going to be 40. The low score is going to be 8 (Vanderlaan, 2015). In terms of variables, 40 indicates they have a higher level of worries and 8 indicates they have a lower level of separation anxiety (Vanderlaan,2015).
Procedure
Participants are recruited through questionnaires and they will be randomly assigned into three conditions. The first condition is going to be all week spent with mom. The second condition will be half with mom and half with dad. The third condition will be all week with dad. In each condition, they are given a game to play. The first condition will be playing the game Uno with mom, the second condition will be playing the bean boozled challenge game with half with mom and half with dad and the third condition will be playing monopoly with dad. Take an informed consent will from the parents by notifying and explaining the reason as to why the experiment is being conducted. The reason the experiment is being conducted is to determine the level of anxiety among children with divorced or married parents. They can withdraw from the experiment whenever they want. After the experiment is done they will be debriefed to the parents and children the reason as to why the experiment being conducted. The research team explained that they would were determining the level of anxiety among divorced and married parents. At the end of the research, they were given an information pamphlet and card to get in contact with the research team if they want to talk about anything that happened after the research to help them emotionally and psychologically.
Results
Two-level main effect
Overall, 60 participants will complete all stage of the experiment. A 2×3 factorial ANOVA will be used to analyze the data. The children of divorced parents had a higher level of anxiety than the children of married parents (M =29.49, SD = 14.74; see figure 1).
Three-level main effect
Children who spent more time with their mom had a higher level of an anxiety than spending time with their dad (M =29.50, SD= 9.83; see figure 2).
Interaction
Overall, children with divorced parents and amount of time spent with mother will have an overall level of anxiety (M =29.50, SD = 6.00; see figure 3).
Discussion
The experiment predicts that children with divorced parents have a higher level of anxiety than children with married parents. The two-level main effect was children whose parents were divorced (M=43.00, SD=0.89) had a higher level of anxiety than children whose parents were married (M=43.00, SD=1.13). The three-level main effect is the amount of time spent with each parent per week. Children who spent time with their mom had a higher level of anxiety than spending time with their dad (M=48..00, SD=0.89). The main interaction is children had a higher level of anxiety with divorced parents than children with married parents and children had a higher level of anxiety with their mom’s than dad’s overall(M=31.5, SD=0.85) Children have a fear of separation anxiety for their parents especially when their parents are divorced. They have a hard time adjusting too with friends, school, and other family members. Not being able to see their Mother and Father at the same time is difficult for the child to understand and deal with. Although much research has been done examining the effects of divorced parents on adolescent and adult children, not much research has been conducted on infants and young children (Stewart, Vandell, McCartney, & Owen, 2000) Nowadays, being divorced and a single mother are more common, it is very imperative to know that whether the psychological development of their children is going to be at risk compared to children who are in married families (Stewart et al.,2000). Children who are from a divorced family face many issues like doing poor in their academic performance, anger issues, and etc (Stewart et al.,2000).
Further studies have concluded that the grieving process a child is confronted with during a divorce, is comparable to the grief a child who has lost a parent experiences (Wallerstein, 1987). There was a study that focused on the late adolescent years and they found that there was a particular developmental task that dealt with separation of their families and the association that would talk about the internal psychological structures and it was going to identify them to be able to commit to the final step on achieving their path to young adulthood (Wallerstein, 1987). There has been relevant to the fundamental questions explained by the recent research on the permanent effects that was consisting of psychic trauma (Wallerstein, 1987). In this study, there were findings that were able to show the effects, they might not be able to be noticeable as soon as possible, or even in a more directly clear-cut symptoms or behaviors, it may actually be thoroughly impacting a person’s consecutive navigating them concepts and intimate possibilities of the universe (Wallerstein, 1987). There has been initial finding from this same study that was showing if the children were in an early latency period at that specific time of the marriage failure were going to be engaged with problems of detachment and disappearance (Wallerstein, 1987). They had a massive loss of the whole family being protective, and this eventually ended up giving them reactions of grief where the young children were grieving over a death of a parent, and this was associated with extreme anxiety that will threaten their modern accomplishments in this comparably, advanced universe institution and aggressive play (Wallerstein, 1987).In this study, the children feel like the family security they once possessed, has now vanished and those effects will have devastating consequences in their later years (Wallerstein, 1987). Unfortunately, when divorce is encountered, the father is usually the one separated from the family, leaving the children, especially the boys, vulnerable (Wallerstein, 1987). What some find puzzling is the fact that children intensely miss their fathers, regardless of their treatment they received (Wallerstein, 1987). At the time of a divorce, young children often experience hardship with adapting to changes and having trouble expressing their emotions (Wallerstein, 1987). However, children who face having divorced parents is a big issue. Divorced families is a big issue in the United States too. The first limitation is that the experiment will only be exclusive to married and divorced families, so not everyone in public can join this experiment just because our sample is based only on 8-12 year old children. The second limitation will be the two-part questionnaire will only be limited to the children because they are the main subjects of this experiment. Finally, the last significant limitation will be the research team need to be able to conduct the experiment and use the right measurements just because this experiment is instead mainly subjective, the researchers want to make sure the participants answer match and are as honest as they can be, so it doesn’t mess up the data were are going to gather from them. There are many ways to improve the order of this research in remembrance to anxiety. A repeated measures design would be helpful so the research team can measure the children’s anxiety levels and see if their outcomes or the variables will change according to their anxiety within time.

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