1 May 2014
The divorce rate in the United
States is the highest in the world.The American Psychological Association reports that roughly
40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. This means that one out of
every two marriages today ends in divorce and many divorcing families include children. Parents
who are getting a divorce are frequently worried about the effect the divorce will have on their
children. During this difficult period, parents may be preoccupied with their own problems, but
continue to be the most important people in their children's lives. While parents may be
devastated or relieved by the divorce, children are frightened and confused by the threat to their
security. Divorce can be misinterpreted by children, they often believe they have caused the
conflict between their parents. Many children will assume the responsibility to bring their parents
back together, causing them additional stress. Divorce has a devastating and long-lasting effect
The foundation of all human interactions is trust. The degree to which trust is present will
determine the nature and depth as well as the length of relationships. If children develop basic
trust, they progress through the rest of the developmental stages in a healthy way. However, if
mistrust is the primary concept developed in infancy, the subsequent developmental stages are
damaged. The result of early development of mistrust can be seen in people who had their
parental attachment broken.
Erikson's developmental stages helps us to understand why this happens. Erik Erikson
(1902-1994) a psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his eight stage theory of psychosocial
development. Erikson believed that an individual development takes place in a social context,
and that it is a lifelong process. Erikson also stated that development occurs through a series of
basic crises of issues. Erikson's first psychosocial stage is "Trust versus Mistrust". This first stage
occurs from birth until about eighteen months. During the first year of life infants rely on others
for their basic needs, the positive outcome of this stage is a sense of trust, if the child is cared for
in a warm, caring environment they are apt to trust the environment. Likewise, if the parent is
angry, anxious or incapable of meeting the child's needs, the child may develop a sense of
mistrust. Erikson's theory continues on through childhood into adulthood, and in sequence carry
on as follows: Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, Identity
vs. Role confusion, Intimacy vs. Isolation, Generativty vs. Stagnation and Integrity vs.
Despair/Disgust . Each stage in the psychosocial theory is concerned with becoming adept in an
area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a sense of mastery.
Breaking the attachment to a parent prior to adulthood has the potential of kicking...