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DIVORCE A BROKEN DREAM Divorce is now part of everyday American life The effects of divorce are embedded in our laws and institutions our manners and mores our novels and childrens storybooks and our closest and most important relationships Indeed divorce has become so pervasive that many people naturally assume it has seeped into the social and cultural mainstream over a long period of time Yet this is not the case Divorce has become an American way of life only as the result of recent and revolutionary change This change in the family structure has indeed hurt children Divorce has created economic insecurity and a disadvantage for many children who would not otherwise be economically vulnerable The effects of divorce has led to more fragile and unstable family households and has caused a mass exodus of fathers from childrens households and all too often from their lives In sum divorce has changed the very nature of American childhood One out of every two marriages today ends in divorce and many divorcing families include children During this difficult period parents may be preoccupied with their own problems but continue to be the most important people in their childrens lives Children of divorced parents live in unstable family households and are at a greater risk of developing mental and physical problems than are children of intact families In a hostile situation the loss of a parent is often felt as failure or helplessness because a resolution was not found Children in this situation often experience the loss of a parent by blaming themselves for not being able to fix the problems and take on an adult role to compensate for their perceived incompetence These children lose their childhood The loss felt through divorce becomes a painful experience that stays with the child internally when not resolved The childrens reality is often not only losing their parent but their home friends
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