Divorce: How does it affect teenage girls?

Did you know about half of American marriages end in divorce and three-fourths of these involve children? About one-fourth of these children live in single-parent households. Many of the children living with their mother, although the father’s custody has increased over the past decade from nine to fourteen percent, we are still seeing them struggle into today’s society. Children spend an average of five years in a single-parent home (almost a third of their total childhood). For many of those divorced it eventually leads to a new family and new relationships. Almost two-thirds of divorced parents remarry a second time.

Many of these relationships causing a third major change- another divorce. Divorce is not a single event, instead it leads to many life-altering changes: new living arrangements, change in housing, income, family roles, and responsibilities. All children suffering from these circumstances, resulting in low self-esteem and personal blame. Young children often blame themselves for the marital breakup and are afraid of abandonment from both the mom and the dad. As the children get older, they are able to better understand the reasons behind the divorce, which may reduce some pain, but the still react very strongly.

As said, most children show improvement by two years after divorce. Yet there are still a few who continue to have some serious difficulties into early adulthood. I have experienced some of these difficulties through coaching girls’ high school athletics. Out of the twelve girls, seven come from divorced or separated families! Knowing these girls very well, I found some positive and negative tendencies is each girl. I strongly believe from my experience that it takes much longer than two years, perhaps a lifetime, for these girls to adapt to their new lives.

There was a huge difference in the attitude and personality of the girls from the divorced home rather that the traditional home. There was lack of trust in their teammates and in me as their coach. There was a difference in academic success. In the middle of the season we would have grade checks and most of these girls were struggling in one or more of their classes. This was very difficult obstacle for me as a coach to understand and overcome. For example, in games that got tough I could tell you that those who were insecure of their surroundings, were less likely to step up to the challenge.

I believe this to be so because they were let down by the ones whom they trusted most and how could they trust someone they just met? Especially at such a critical time in their lives where they are trying to find out who they truly are. Overtime, I could see it get better, but it was definitely a struggle for us both. Most of my girls lived with their biological mother and stepfather (the most frequent type of blended family). I noticed through out the season that if anything were to go wrong, the girls were quickly to blame their mother.

I know it is said that girls have a hard time adjusting to their stepfather because they disrupt the close tie between them and their mom, but almost 90 percent of the time, they blamed their mother. A perfect example is one of my girls was never on time for any of the games or practices. Everyday she would come to me with an excuse that her mom was busy, she had an appointment, or her mom’s car wouldn’t start. It was incredible. This young girl’s face was full of disappointment and anger. I could see that she really loved to play volleyball, and it really hurt her that her mom didn’t get her there on time.

Her mother didn’t even come to watch her play and most of the time I would have to wait around for her mom or stepfather (sometimes up to 45 minutes) after the game was over for them to come and pick her up. And from what the book has to say, she felt as though her stepfather was taking away her ties with her mother and putting her on the back burner. Many days, it was as if she wasn’t even there. I had one girl who lived with her biological father and her stepmother. In this case, it was exactly opposite of the typical blended family.

Normally, the children have a hard time getting along with their stepmothers, but in her case, it was the best thing for her. I could tell that they had been a family for a while and had learned to adjust to their new lifestyle together. The book adds that it usually takes three to five years for blended families to develop the connectedness and comfort of intact biological families. I could see this family had overcome the typical stereotypes and truly loved one another. I propose that if the half of the American marriages aren’t working, we as a society need to act and act now.

There are two many children involved and it isn’t their fault. These children need to be born into homes that are secure, so they too can feel secure. I believe that parents always want the best for their children, but are making mistakes and hurting their children instead. I have grown up in a home where my mother and father have been together for twenty-eight years and counting! I cannot tell you how much of an advantage this is for me and my brother and sister. We have accomplished so much in our lifetime and we have so much more to look forward to. I believe this is because of our strong family base.

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