A Sociological view of Divorce
They were the family you always wish you had
The Cleavers. Wise and wonderful Ward. A pal as well as a Dad. June. The perfect wife and mother. Big brother Wally. Popular, smart and athletic – one tough act to follow. And last but definitely not least, hapless, irrepressible Theodore, a.k.a. “the Beaver,” just a regular kid trying his best to stay out of trouble while finding a thousand ways to place himself at trouble’s doorstep. Leave it to Beaver. It was the television hit in the 60s that hallmarked the phrase, ” The American Family” and made it its own.
Here we are, 40 years later, in the midst of social turmoil, where the values and principles such as the family unit that were once our nation’s bedframe, are now the very same values and principles we are starting to question. Needless to say, the family structure is riding the wave of a rapidly changing society and changing right along with it. More adolescents are growing up in a wider margin of family structures than ever before in history. Divorce is not only personal trouble dividing households, but it has become a developing Social issue sweeping the nation. The number of adolescents growing up specifically in broken families is mounting everyday. Divorce has become an epidemic among our nation invading one in every two marriages in this country (Patz 59). In fact the United States has the highest percentile of single – parent families, compared to all other countries (Santrock 167). And by age 18, approximately one fourth of all American children will have lived part of their lives in a step-family unit (Santrock 167). I knew that adolescents of divorced families were put at a greater individual risk and vulnerability to adjustment problems later in life, however I was not aware of the particular areas that such a division in the family structure could have an affect on. Evidence shows however that not only does divorce permanently weaken the child/parents relationship, but has also been found to be behind lowered academic performance, destructive ways of handling conflict, a poorer self-image, greater engagement in delinquent activities and the root of pessimism towards future relationships and goals in life. These things only perpetuate the rapid downward spiral of family breakdown (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?” 2000).
Sociologists often look at behaviors and societal trends from a theoretical perspective. Such perspectives are theories, or a set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain, and predict social events. I would like to take a deeper look at the United State’s current rising divorce rate and its affect on our adolescents, from an interactionist perspective. Interactionists viewpoints are based on the assumption that society is the sum of the meaning of the interactions of the individuals and groups. This perspective focuses on behavior or on each person’s interpretation or definition of a given situation. The relation of divorce to this macro-level interactionist theory is that divorce is primarily dependent on humans living in cohesive groups or not, and communicating and its affects on the members involved. Research shows that the wrenching act of divorce and the loss of that original unit and the hope tied to it is often irreplaceable for a child and has a permanent affect of cataclysmic proportions (Preston 12). And children of divorced households, appear to show higher expectations of divorce and to have higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have children (“How Might Divorce Affect My Child’s Behavior?” 2000). Thus completing the downward spin of the deterioration in family units and the increase of the divorce rate.
I have been blessed to be born and raised in an intact household and to have a close family. But I have been in the company of many who haven’t had that same background. My roommate here, who is one of my closest friends, comes from a divorced family. And in researching this topic, I have been able to pick out many more characteristics of a stereotypical child from a broken home in her. In sharing some of my discoveries, in no way am I belittling my roommate or