The rate of divorce in the world today especially in Nigeria is alarming. Children of divorced or separated parents exhibit increased behavioural problems and marital conflict that accompanies parents divorce, places the child’s social competence at risk. Even in intact families that have low medium levels of conflict, children still have fewer behaviour problems than those in the high conflict disrupted families. Another suggests that parental conflict affects the outcome of children’s behaviour problems, regardless of parents marital status and sometimes there is no statistical difference in the level of behaviour problems observed for children whose parents separated or divorced and for children whose parents remained together. Overall, young adults best off when raised by two continuously married parents with a low conflict relationship. During a divorce, conflict between parents is often accompanied by less affection, less responsiveness and more inclination to punish their children feeling emotionally insecure. These children are more likely to perceive their social milieu as unpredictable and uncontrollable. Children who engage in fighting and stealing at school are far more likely to come from broken homes than our well behaved children. Children of divorced families are more than twice as likely to drop out of highh school as children from intact families. Other studies have confirmed that children of divorced parents exhibit more behavioral problems than the children from intact families. Boys, whose parents divorced while they were in elementary school tend to develop problems in the years following their parents separation. While problem behaviour increases immediately following the divorce among boys whose parents divorced while they were in middle school, their problem behaviour steadily decreases in the year after the divorce.
Parenting through divorce present particular challenges because it is often difficult for parents to know what their children really think or feel about the changes in their family. For a variety of reasons, most children talk very little about their parents divorce and their own complex feelings surrounding it.
Another challenge for most parents is to focus on achieving parenting goals when the multiple changes in their lives that precede and follow divorce cause enormous stress-indeed, divorce is second only to death of a spouse as a major source of stress. In addition, for many parents, grieving the end of their marriage and managing their own painful, raw emotions make it doubly difficult tofocus on their children’s expanded needs.
For some parents, continuing their hostility is a problem with enormous potential to damage their children. Unfortunately, this is sometimes fueled by a legal process that may feed their view of themselves as adversaries, and focus on blame and retribution rather than on children’s best interest. Ongoing conflict also erode effective Parenting, which in turn contributes to children’s emotional and behavioural problems.
Despite these difficulties, many parents find ways to make their children’s needs a top priority and learn to parent effectively so that their children can focus on the priorities of childhood-learning and growing-rather than on being their parents caretakers be or mediators.
FACTORS THAT LEADS TO CHILDREN’S BEHAVIOUR CHANGE IN MARITAL HOMES: 1. Ongoing conflict between parents, especially when it is abusive and or focused on children. 2. Diminished capacity to parent or poor parenting. 3. Lack of monitoring children’s activities. 4. Peer pressure. 5. Multiple family transitions (divorce, remarriage, another divorce) 6. Parent mental health problems. 7. Chaotic, unstable household 8. Impaired parent-child relationship 9. Economic decline.
In conclusion, since divorce is prevalent worldwide, it is critical to understand its impact on children and to establish ways to protect them from it’s potentially damaging effects.