Divorce through the eyes of a Deaner - 11/21/01
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Wed Nov 21 15:59:30 EST 2001
subject: Divorce through the eyes of a Deaner - 11/21/01
from: Smart Marriages
COLUMN: Divorce through the eyes of a Deaner
By Heidi Hardt
U. Southern California
(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES -- According to the National Center for
Health Statistics, approximately 41 percent of new marriages in the United
States end in divorce. That may not be
much of a surprise considering divorce is as much a part of
American culture as baseball and the NFL. Apply that percentage to the
University of Southern California's population and we
are left with about 11,480 students who are the products of
single-parent households out of the 28,000 students attending USC.
For me that means if the number of divorces per marriage continues
to rise, I am soon to be a minority in that my parents are married. Growing
up, I became used to coming over to a
friend's house and saying hello to only one parent or not being
able to hang out with a friend on certain weekends because her other parent
had custody of her for that time.
To me, it was a nuisance; to her, that was life. But in school,
did the fact that my friend lived with one parent affect her grades or her
drive for academic success? Was she a disadvantaged
student because she had one parent to help her do her homework,
one parent to show her right from wrong, and one parent as her dominant
role-model instead of two? I decided to find out.
Around 3 a.m. two nights ago when I was avoiding studying like any
good USC student does, I was in a conversation with some friends about how
crazy it is that so many couples end
their marriages in divorce. I made the observation that the kids
in our dorm that I'd talked to came from married households. I live in the
Deans' Halls, otherwise known as the Nerds Halls
and I immediately wondered just how many Deaners have married
parents back home. Would that number have any correlation with their
receiving scholarships and then indirectly their
placement in the honors dorms?
Assuming that academic success is more prevalent in two-parent
households, I figured that the majority of the Deaners, as scholarship
students, would have married parents. Intrigued and
looking for another excuse to procrastinate, I surveyed all the
students that I could get a hold of in Dean's Halls and discovered that the
numbers were overwhelming. It wasn't by a small
margin that the number of married parents outweighed the number of
divorced parents. There was a gap that made us, as Deaners, look like the
Puritans we descended from.
According to my survey, in both Marks and Trojan halls, 97 Deaners
claimed to have two parents in the home during their high school years while
only 11 Deaners claimed to have one.
The population surveyed totaled 108, leaving approximately 90
percent of Deaners with married parents.
Though the basic gist of the idea was evident, the survey
definitely left a lot of room for error. To begin with, I defined the
students of married parents as those who had two parent-figures
in the household during their high-school years. That meant some
students had remarried parents or step-parents. I counted separated parents
as being divorced because they didn't live
It's also important to note that not all Deaners are on
scholarship, many were placed in the residence halls, just as many
scholarship students chose not to live in the Deans' Halls. Of
course, in doing the survey not all the Deaners were in their
rooms when I came around. However, of those that I did survey the results
quite obviously showed some correlation.
What does this say about the impact of the marriage status of
parents on a child's academic performance? How does divorce lower a child's
willingness to succeed? Picture a high-school
student bent over his books in his bedroom, the radio blasting,
his eyes intent on the page, and suddenly over the music he hears two
familiar voices yelling at each other about something
that doesn't even matter.
These are the two most important people in his life, the two
people who care more about him than anyone in the world, and the same two
people who used to encourage him to do well.
He turns up the music in an effort to drown out the sounds but
concentration is impossible.
It's a scene that's become so mundane and common to him that when
two weeks later his dad moves out, the house seems empty of not just his
father but of the yelling and bickering too.
In a youth's mind, marriage represents stability, success,
comfort, and even though this parents yelled at each other all the time, at
least somewhere in the back of his head he knew he just
knew that they loved each other. And now without even that to
depend on S something like that just tears a person up inside. Family
dysfunction, parent conflict, the bitterness and
friction don't just dissipate, they rub off on a child.
The low self-esteem, the anger, and questioning, all of it is
reflected in the child's attitude toward his schooling. The frustration
comes out as rebellion or indifference and the grades drop in
sync with the student's self-confidence. With so many problems in
the household, it's impossible for a child to study or be a normal kid.
Besides, where is the motivation when parents are
too distracted to care?
The fact that so many Deaners come from married households doesn't
mean they come from happy homes, it doesn't even mean their parents
encouraged them to learn, it just means that
the environments they come from included two parent-figures to
look up to, giving these students something to strive for.
Role models offer a child a glimpse at his or her potential
future. Without the distraction and negative effects of divorce, a student
has a lot more room to breathe, a lot more room to
achieve, and a lot more room to succeed.
(C) 2001 Daily Trojan via U-WIRE
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