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Family break up affecting career choice?

2015

Hi,

My name is Sanisha . I am an undergraduate student studying at Monash University , South Africa . I am double majoring in Psychology and Child and youth development.

My question is: Can divorce or separation of family affect your choices in career as a child/teenager ? For example most children look up to their parents and want to be just like them, but if they suffer a trauma such as a difficult divorce, is it likely that they will change their view of their parents and do you think it would indefinitely change their view on how they want their life to turn out/ career choices?

Sanisha Maharaj
...

Hi Sanisha,

I am a CYC student myself, but I happen to be a "mature" one with four children - this is my second time back at University, having obtained a BA Ed 25 years ago.

I cannot speak as a practitioner, but I can speak as a mother and from life's experience, and from research that I have been doing myself. I think that the answer to your question depends largely on how the parents handle the divorce. In other words, if they are respectful of each other and encourage the children to have a good relationship with the other parent, the children will continue to look up to them and be influenced positively by them. Sadly, this is often not the case, and in extreme cases where parental alienation is at play, children are turned against the other parent, start to hate them, and want to have nothing to do with them. They certainly do not want to follow in their footsteps.

It can be years before children mature enough to realize that they have actually been victims of PA, but at that point career choices may have been made. Or sadly, there are those that are so affected by PA, that they turn to drugs, alcohol, drop out of school, develop mental health issues, etc. and never even go on to pursue a career.
Having said that, it's never too late to make changes, start over, reconcile with the once despised parent, recognize the truth. Life is a journey and sometimes it takes a while to get to where we want to go...

There are many studies that have been done on PA, which you might be familiar with. If not, a helpful one to start with is Is the Concept of Parental Alienation a Meaningful One? by Ludwig F. Lowenstein (2013), Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 54 (8), 658-667

Hope this helps. Good luck with your studies,

Tanya K.
...

Hi Sanisha,

My name is Robert Williams and I am a student at University of the Fraser Valley, in the CYC Bachelors Program. I am becoming a first time dad and I think that there are many factors to how it would affect the child/youth or not.

One of the ways that it could affect them is if it is an ugly break up and the children are put into the middle. I have worked with many children that believe that they are the reason that they are breaking up. It is important to always understand that it is not the child's fault but issues that the parents have. If the child believes that it is their fault then they could have a hard time in their career choice if they were unsure about the career already. They could be questioning everything already and with being to blame for so much hurt and confusion they may question what they want in life.

They could also change career ideas for the better, depending on how young they are. I heard of many people who have wanted to go into the helping fields because they are a child of divorce. They could try and go into a field where they work with parents to keep them together so that their knowledge can help other children from having to go throw the same thing.

I also think that there could be no effect on their career choices. I think that if they are old enough and are independent already then they may not be affected in the way of career choice. I know that I have a couple friends that where 17 when their parents separated and they were old enough to know it was their parents issue and they kept up with the school they already were doing.

All in all I think that it comes down to where the child and youth are at in their development and their personal security.

Thanks.

Robert
...

Hi Sanisha,

As a student in the field I cannot say much professionally as I'm also in the process of taking in more info in this field, but I would like to answer your question as an individual who went through the same experience as a child. I remember, as a child I used to dream about excelling in my maths and biology and one day becoming a biologist(I was very curious back then). Of course that became a distant dream after my parents separated and I had to take the reins of raising my siblings at 12. I guess somehow caring came naturally and my mind also had a major shift in my youth years when I saw the suffering other kids were going through and having no one to turn to. Suddenly I would sit for hours thinking of a strategy to help other young people who were suffering like me to turn around their suffering(I used to get into trouble with my dad for sharing my school material with others). I remember thinking how one day I was going to build an orphanage and house all the young people who were suffering. Although after school I started out in business, I always knew that was not what I was destined to do in life. I would seriously not say being a child and youth care worker was always in my mind before my parents separated but the experience I went through and realities of life diverted me into this field.

Many, many years later a biologist I'm not......instead here I am pursuing what I'm passionate about working with young people on a broader scale in my community.

Zama Mbele
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