Effect of Divorce on Children’s Conflict Behaviour


One in every three marriages conducted in Nigeria fail within the first three years (Al Jazeera, 2012). Thus, by the time students in Nigeria reach the age of eighteen, 50-60% of them will be affected by divorce (Adegoke, 2010).  Given the large number of children affected by divorce, research has focused on why and how divorce affects children’s adjustment (Potter, 2010; Sun & Li, 2011). Research consistently shows a negative relationship between parental divorce and children’s well-being. For example, children from divorced families have been found to have higher rates of depression (Strohschein, 2005) and antisocial behaviors (Vandewater & Lansford, 1998). Studies have found parental divorce to have a significant negative effect on children’s educational success, such as academic achievement and attainment (Amato, 2001; Frisco et al., 2007; Lansford, 2009;).

Among children of divorce, relatively few studies have examined effect of divorce on children’s conflict behaviour.According to Quinlan (2003), it is difficult for a child to realize that two people who love themselves do not love each other again. Most children could not comprehend the complexity of strains that led to the rapture of marital love. Fraser (2003) contends that performance and behaviour of children living with a single parent is below that of children living with the two parents. He observed that children who lives with a parent especially a divorced one, usually feels unsecured, always attention seeking and anxious that his/her education may be seriously hindered or disrupted through these feelings and at the end it would affect the child’s total behaviour. It has been statistically proven that children in single parents home fare worse than those with two parents (States News Service, 2005).

It has been established that family structure contributes to five characteristics of a child’s well being. These include lower birth rates and higher death rates among infants when there is just one parent.Compared to children who grew up in continuously intact families, offspring from divorced parents are often found to have lower psychological well-being (Ferner, 2002) have more emotional problems such as depression (Evbodaghe, 2002) have more negative self-image perform less well at school exhibit more delinquent and aggressive behaviour have a higher risk for substance use and they also have more problematic relationships and early sexual intercourse (Fraser, 2003).Previous research has shown parental divorce to be negatively associated with academic achievement.

However, most of this research has been focused on the educational outcomes of children and adolescents as opposed to young adults. This has created a vacuum in understanding the link between divorce and children anti-social behaviour. To fill this gap,  the current study investigates whether and how parental divorce affects children’s conflict behaviour in a school setting.

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