Effects of Divorce on Society
Increased youth crime rate is caused largely by absent fathers
as a result of divorce made too easy. Consider this chilling forecast.
When we pass the year 2000, we will see two groups of working age
adults emerging. One group will have received psychological, social,
economic, educational and moral benefits and the other group will have
been denied them all. The first group will have grown up with a father
present in the house and the second group will have not had a father
present. The groups will be roughly equal in size. In order to be
divorced in my parent's era of the fifties, one mate had to be proven
adulterous. Legally, one party was deemed guilty and one was innocent.
That finding affected each party financially and socially enough so
that most couples tried hard not to divorce. In Canada the rate of
divorce in 1951 was one out of twenty couples. In the late sixties,
the "sexual revolution" began and couples rebelled against the
constraints of marriage. Movie makers and journalists became rich
extolling the virtues of free love and liberation.
The addition of more grounds for divorce and the elimination
of the need to appear in court made it easier for couples to split.
Now there are "no fault" divorces which further decrease the stigma.
By 1987 one out of two couples divorced. Since then, the annual
divorce rate has dipped slightly. The stigma is almost gone. Books are
written about doing your own divorce. One can obtain a low budget
quickie divorce by phone or fax to the Dominican Republic in about
three days. There are "divorce parties". Even the Royal Family
discusses its divorce dilemmas on t.v.
The divorce picture is not all rosy. According to sociologist
Lenore Weitzman, divorced women get by on about 64% of the income they
had during marriage. For their children, this translates into less
money for school activities, clothes, opportunities for traveling and
learning, day care and sometimes food. Children can be called on to do
adult tasks before they are ready, like caring for younger siblings.
Older children may be required to work long hours at a job to help
bring money to the family. As a result, they may fall behind in their
school work. After a while, the child may feel it is hopeless to try
to keep up and decide to quit school.
At this point a girl may decide to get pregnant and bear a
child. She may feel that in doing so her life will have more meaning
and she will receive unconditional love from the child. A U.S.
National Longitudinal Survey of Youth reveals that 27% of girls from
divorced families become mothers versus 11% of girls from traditional
families. For boys, leaving school generally means a succession of low
paying jobs or life on the streets.
Certainly our "fatherless society" cannot be blamed for all
juvenile delinquency but it is a major contributor. Morals are taught
best within the confines of a stable home with both parents present.
Retired Edmonton Police Service Superintendent Chris Braiden, notes
that in the thirty year period in which violent youth crime rose by
300% in the U.S., the number of single parent families rose by 300%
and the divorce rate doubled, the same as it did in Canada. Seventy
percent of juvenile offenders in the U.S. jails grew up without a
There is a drastic shortage of positive male role models.
There is no doubt about it; single mothers have and can continue to
raise good and responsible children. It takes the physical and
emotional strength of Hercules to do it and I have great respect for
mothers who have succeeded. My own mother did it. But the numbers show
that lack of fathers contribute greatly to juvenile crime.
Lately, the role of the father is superfluous. He has been
reduced to being a household helper or a child support payer. His role
is important because he provides a love that is different than the
mother's. Mother's love is unconditional. Father's love is sought
after and earned through achievement. The child must work for this
love. This type of love may sound like unreal love, but I think it is
real. The lucky child is the one who has the benefit of both kinds of
The father can yield the power to invoke fear among children.
This sounds bad but it isn't. Of course, the father can be friendly
and loving but never underestimate the power of fear to keep them in
line. I am not talking about laying a hand on the children, just the
idea of something "bad happening" if they don't "shape up". I can
attest to the success of fear in my own family. It works!
Without the father present, children are ripe for becoming
anything their peers want them to be. They find it hard to resist
temptation to be dishonest or criminal. There is no father to answer
to. Yes, there is Mom to answer to but she is usually not as
intimidating as a father. In the community, a safer street is one
where there are fathers out mowing the lawn or fixing a car. A child
is less apt to commit a crime with fathers visibly present. There is a
saying that "it takes a whole community to raise a child." Mothers set
the standards for the community and fathers enforce them.
To get back on the course of a family oriented instead of a
divorce oriented society, I feel we should start with acknowledgment
of the sad state of affairs our families are in. We should recognize
the link divorce has to youth crime. We should pay close attention to
what makes successful families and model ours after theirs. We need to
recognize that marriage and parenting is a difficult job but can be
oh-so-rewarding. Children's needs should always come first. If there
are marital difficulties, couples should commit to counseling unless
the situation is dangerous for the mother and children. I feel couples
should give themselves a year of work, then re-evaluate their
marriage. Applaud organizations such as Al Gore's "Father to Father"
program and the group Promise Keepers. These groups seek to elevate
the importance of fatherhood.
Several years ago, Vice President Dan Quayle accused t.v.
character Murphy Brown of ridiculing the two parent family. He endured
a lot of ridicule himself from people of conservative and liberal
beliefs. Now even President Bill Clinton concedes that "Dan Quayle was
Blankenhorn, David. Perspectives on Fatherhood; Between Haves and
Have-nots: We need a credible national agenda to reverse the trend of
fathers being superfluous to family life.; Home edition, Los Angeles
Times, 20 Jun 1993, pp. M-5
McGovern, Celeste. The Mirage of `easy' divorce., Vol. 22, Alberta
Report/Western Report, 28 Aug 1995, pp. 28