The breakdown of the family structure and the effect on children

I know in the eyes of today’s society, especially in America in 2021, I’m suppose to be the last person that should write on the subject of the family structure. But as we move further along in this social experiment called the United States of America I’m going to be a part of (or soon be a part of ) the minority of people from a traditional two-parent home.

This piece is not saying children of the traditional family structure are better than children from a non-traditional family structure. That would be absurd. Again I’m not saying a child from either structure is better than the other. The focus is the effect the structure has on the child.

Searching on Google for information on this subject was telling in itself. When searching for the negative effects of family breakdown on children, the search engine results came up with different studies and their findings. However, searching for positive effects or no effects of family breakdown on children, the search engine results mostly showed results on the negative effects or how family in general affects children. Only one story on the first page of the results was about positive effects and this wasn’t a study but an opinion piece about the positive characteristics of people who are products of broken families.

The main study I looked at came from the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). This study researched and evaluated for nearly 30 years the effects of broken families on children. Over that time span and in the time since the study was released (2014) the image of the family has changed in the United States. No-fault divorce went into effect in 1976 so the results of this ruling would have been fresh when this study began. Now in today’s politically driven society marriage has been under attack in the name of social justice.

The results of the study found the child may lose time with each parent. The child may lose economic security. The child may lose emotional security. The child may have decreased social and psychological maturation. The child may change his or her outlook on sexual behavior. The child may lose his/her religious faith and practice. The child may lose cognitive and academic stimulation. The child may be less physically healthy. The child may have a higher risk of emotional distress.

Not every child will express all these traits, or maybe none at all. However, over 30 years of research these are the trends the study found.

The first point is probably most obvious, the child may miss time with each parent. If the parents aren’t in the same household time will be divided between the parents, and of course if a parent has passed away they can’t spend time with them.

The second point, the child may lose economic security makes sense when a family goes from potentially two incomes to one. This can also have an effect on the first point. The child’s economic mobility is also negatively affected.

The third point, the child may lose emotional security can also be linked to the first point. Their emotional relationship could suffer or be severed to one or both parents.

The fourth point, the child may have decreased social and psychological maturation, included dealing with bouts of anxiety and depression. Which if one has lost a loved this is natural to have these feelings.

The fifth point, the child may change his or her outlook on sexual behavior. The study found the view of marriage and commitment of children of divorce to not be as permanent.

The sixth point, the child may lose his/her religious faith and practice. Coming from a secular study I was surprised this was even included in the study.

The seventh point, the child may lose cognitive and academic stimulation and eighth point, the child may be less physically healthy, tie back to the fourth point if one is dealing with anxiety and depression.

The final point, the child may have a higher risk of emotional distress. This point can also tie back to the fourth point. Emotional distress comes with a loss of a loved one. Children can have emotional distress throughout their school years anyways without the stress of a broken family.

Thinking back to my years in high school and early college years I can remember friends going through a major shake up in their family structure. Some of them did show a few of these characteristics but some of them have not.

I’ve been on the other side of the spectrum so it’s interesting to see how our experiences have shaped us.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store