I had to write an expository essay for my English class. This is the final draft.
My mother sat down on the couch and sighed wearily. I could see that she was clearly tired from a long day of work. I took a seat next to her and she hugged me. We sat like that for a while, and then she said suddenly: “Today I got the divorce.”
Statistics say that 40% of all marriages end in divorce. What does that say about our society? Is “in sickness and in health, till death do you part” no longer an issue? It’s coming to the point that when my friends introduce their families, hearing the words “stepfather”, “stepmother”, “stepbrother”, “stepsister” is more common than the real thing. Families that have never went through a divorce seem to be a thing of the past; by now everyone knows someone who went through a divorce, and perhaps even someone on their second or third marriage. The fact that it’s so common spells out a great danger to families, for divorces are not the end of the story. Divorces lead to broken families, distressing childhoods and fail to teach the children family values, which continues the cycle.
The effects that a divorce has on families are never positive. All children need the presence of both parents in order to thrive. I remember that after my mom got the divorce I stayed in the house for a whole month. It was not intentional, it just happened to be summertime and I stayed indoors doing nothing until so much time passed that it already became fall. I stepped outside and saw how much everything changed outside. Everything began to die. When I walked to the nearby park, the trees were barren and the dead leaves were crushed beneath my feet with every step. The wind was cold and the air had lost its warmth. It felt exactly as it was at home. From the moment my mother left to go to work and until she came back that evening, I was the alone in the house. I wouldn’t come home from school to see that my dad had cooked me something for dinner, nor was there a new movie for the two of us to watch until mom came home. I thought I was the only one with such experiences until I talked about them with my friends. They all felt the same way. Divorce is similar to the death of a parent, but it’s actually crueler because it’s not the parent that’s gone. It’s the feeling of a family. It disappears, and in some children, it never recovers again.
One of the most devastating factors of divorce is the psychological factor. Mary Ainsworth’s groundbreaking research on attachment styles between parents and children revealed the importance of that relationship. She showed that only with an active and caring parent would a child feel securely attached. Children who had a secure attachment bond with their parents would have a lot of confidence and were more likely to become high achievers in school. What’s the impact of losing a parent when the child is securely attached? Damien W. Cordero, a psychologist who expanded on Mary Ainsworth’s attachment theory and it’s applications to divorce claimed that children who live in dysfunctional families, or have divorced families can assimilate dysfunction as a normal part of attachment. In layman’s terms, an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and from a dysfunctional family, dysfunctional children are raised. It’s no surprise that divorce rates are common among children whose parents are divorced as well.
The effects of divorce don’t end there. In fact, it’s clear in our popular culture that traditional family values have long since changed. Currently it’s a general consensus that telling a person you love him or her means that you have very serious intentions. In contrast, in older mass media, it was common to say it even on a first date, and in most cultures, there is no such distinction between “love” and “like” as there is in American culture. When watching the movie “Transformers 2” a couple of years ago, I was surprised by the childishness of the protagonist who refused to tell his girlfriend he loved her because he didn’t feel quite ready for it. He only does so at the conclusion of the film, and only after she says it first. I just didn’t understand such a perversion of a simple feeling. I wouldn’t bring up such a ridiculous movie if there wasn’t a good reason for it. The truth is, our culture is much more ridiculous than that. In high school, I’ve not known any couple that explicitly proclaimed love for each other. Furthermore, it’s becoming a decreasing trend for children to tell their parents that they loved them every night. Just ask yourself if you did it when you were a child. Other effects of divorce are not so easy to spot. The children often lose trust in people of the same sex as the parent that leaves the household. It’s especially hard on girls, who are likely to find themselves in abusive relationships mirroring those that their parents went through. However, the effect on men is just the same. Absentee fathers breed absentee fathers. I can personally vouch for that, because my first stepfather was the son of a stepfather, and so, coincidentally is my second stepfather. I can only hope I don’t continue the streak.
The divorce, while a seemingly private occurrence already is a cultural phenomenon. When nearly one in two marriages ends in divorce, it’s something that is clearly on everyone’s mind. Its effects, however, are usually not. The ruined childhoods are just the least of the problems, because the worst effect of divorces is that they teach children that it is normal. While a divorce might seem as if it is an easy way out, for the sake of the children involved, it’s important to at least try to make things work.