advert

JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 1, JUNE, 2010


PSYCHOSOCIAL EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON FAMILY OFFSPRINGS IN GBOKO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF BENUE STATE: COUNSELLING INTERVENTION STRATEGIES

Samson Olorunda Abekhale
Student Affairs Unit, University of Mkar, Mkar
                                                        E-mail: abeksam@yahoo.com 

 

Abstract
The prevalence of divorce in our society has apparently become an issue of serious concern to scholars and particularly to family counsellors. This study therefore, investigated into the psychosocial effects of divorce on family offsprings in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State. A sample of 100 participants were selected for the study. Secondary information was equally collected from three Area Courts within the area. The result revealed the causes and psycho-social effects of divorce on family offsprings. It equally revealed that both male and female spouses do initiate divorce summons. The study further reveled that the occupation and level of educational attainment of couples significantly influence the prevalence of divorce. The study therefore, recommended some prevention and intervention strategies that can forestall the increase in the rate of divorce in our society. They include the Divorce Prevention Programme (DPP) and Divorce Intervention Programme (DIP).

Keywords:Psycho-social effects, divorce, offsprings,counseling


Introduction
 Marriages before the end of the 20th century were bonded with traditional rites and taboos. Marriages, whether solemnized in court, church or mosque are usually binded with legal vows to love, honour and cherish till death do them part, divorce rate was therefore, seemingly negligible.
Unfortunately, most of such rites and vows are apparently becoming unrealistic in this present dispensation of new morality, which places high premium on absolute freedom of a person to do anything he or she desires. This is evidenced in the overwhelming increase in the rate of single parents which is necessitated a deliberate divorce arrangement of couples. The devastating effect of this on the offsprings appears to be grave. Hence Eze-Echesi (2009, P.91) reminded and emphatically warned Nigerians that “the family is a sacred unit and should be respected. It should also be protected and supported, because without the family there will be no life and there would be no world”. This is the crux of this study, which is aimed at investigating into the divorce situation in our society with the hope of providing counselling intervention strategies that will ameliorate the already increasing rate of divorce.

Conceptual framework
The concept of the family is conceive by Schaefer & Lamm (1998, P.378) as “a set of people related by blood, marriage or some other agreed-upon relationships) or adoption, who share the primary responsibility for reproduction and caring for members of society”. In the same vein psychologists like Orhungur (1990, P.16) agree that the family is “a group of related kins, linked by blood and marriage, who are usually characterized by economic cooperation and solidarity”. The deduction from the aforementioned definitions is that the family is fundamentally, a product of marriage. Family typology varies with culture but basically, the nuclear and extended family systems exist across the globe and the expectation is that members of a family should interact with one another for the sustenance of not only the family but the society at large. The action or inaction of any members of the family has serious implications on the coporate survival of the family, because the family stands as the basic unit of socialization on which every other activity in the society hovers around. The responsibilities of the family has been summarized by Schaefer & Lamm (1998,P.383) to include “reproduction, protection, socialization, regulation of sexual behaviour, affection and companionship providing social status”. Moore (1995) however lamented that such benefits or responsibilities of the family are continuously being separated. Infact, they are gradually being neglected in our society and consequently, crisis is looming in every quarter.
The concept of marriage is seen by Eshleman (1969) in Nwoye (1991, P.28) as “involving an interpersonal heterosexual relationship in which the individuals participating in it are permitted to have children without any loss of standing in the society of which they are a part”.  This study equally sees marriage as a legal, permanent and sacred institution enacted between a matured man and woman through mutual agreement and in the presence of some witnesses including parents of the couples for the purpose of procreation, socialization and companionship, with a promise to fully support and protect the products (children) of the relationship to maturity. The Holy Bible in Genesis 2:24 emphasize the permanent nature of the institution of marriage. It stresses the issues of cleaverage and the two becoming one flesh. According to Mambula (1999, P.3) “this cleaving is an irrevocable permanent bond”. However, divorce has seemingly brought that bond to disrepute and destroyed the entire family relationship. Divorce in this context refers to the formal or legal termination of a marriage relationship. The dissolution or termination of a marriage that is already blessed with children has grave implications on the safety and survival of the children as well as the society. A young girl from a divorced family in Young People Ask (2006, P. 34) laments:


            I remember when my dad left us. We really didn’t know what was going on. Mom had to go
            to work and left us alone all the time. Sometimes we’d just sit by the window and worry
            whether she had left us too.


When a child is not given the desired care and attention by both parents, he grows to develop a feeling of isolation, deprivation, rejection and lack of affection. Such children may eventually grow up to become very aggressive Orhungur (2003) and Wegh (2007). This is the scenario that informed the investigation into the psycho-social effects of divorce on family offspring with a view to proposing plausible counselling intervention strategies to curb the menace.

Statement of the problem
Divorce, which was a rare phenomenon before the close of the 20th century, has apparently become common placed today. It is being done freely as if it has no negative effect on the children and the society. Yet, the prevalence of single parents in our society today appears to have caused some negative effects on the children of such relationships such that children are seemingly demanding to know the value and essence of marriage when they are neither cared for nor have a model to copy from. Divorce has suddenly become a precipitator of moral decay and insecurity in our society. Laha (2007, P. 2) laments that “since children have no good moral examples to copy from and no moral values are inculcated into them, they turned round to develop their own”. The situation seemingly  has given rise to social vices and psychological trauma, which require immediate attention. It is against this backdrop that the study was embarked upon to investigate into the psycho-social effects of divorce on family offspring and to recommend some possible intervention strategies, which may ensure peace and stability in families in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.

Purpose of the study
The study was embarked upon to find out the factors that are responsible for the prevalence of divorce among couples in Gboko Local Government Area; investigate into the psycho-social effects of divorce on family offsprings; find out the influence of sex, occupation and educational attainment of couples on divorce and to recommend plausible counselling intervention preventive and strategies that will forestall the prevalence of divorce among couples in the local government area under study.

Research questions
In order to successfully accomplish the purpose of the study, five research questions were drawn. They are:

  1. What are the factors responsible for divorce in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State?
  2. What are the psychosocial effects of divorce on family offsprings in Gboko Local Government Area?
  3. Is there any sex difference in the rate of divorce summons among couples in Gboko Local Government Area?
  4. Is there any influence of occupation of couples on the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area?
  5. Does the level of educational attainment of couples influence the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area?

Research hypotheses
Three research hypotheses were formulated for the study. They are:

  1. There is no significant difference between the sex of spouses and divorce summons.
  2. There is no significant influence of occupation of couples on divorce.
  3. There is no significant influence of the level of educational attainment on divorce.

Research design
The survey design, which is an arm of the descriptive approach, was used for the study. This is because the study requires the gathering of opinion from married couples in various works of life within Gboko Local Government Area, and the survey method is most relevant in the measurement of public opinion on issues such as divorce.

Sample and sampling technique
The target population for the study comprises all married couples in Gboko Local Government Area. A sample of 100 married participants was purposively selected for the study. This consisted of representative sample of 50 males and 50 females who have at least first degree as their level of educational attainment and are above 50 years of age. The age and level of educational attainment were purposively selected so that the instrument of the study can be maturedly addressed by experienced couples. In order to have a good representative sample, 5 males and 5 females were drawn from each of the 10 villages selected for the study.
Instrumentation
Two instruments were used for the study. The first instrument was a structured questionnaire designed by the researcher tagged “Psychosocial Effects of Divorce Inventory (PSEDI). The instrument contained 30 items split into two sections. Section A contained the biodata of participants including sex, marital status, age and occupation. Section B was made up of questions designed on a four point likert scale to elicit responses on the causes and effects of divorce on family offsprings. Since all the items were structured positively, the scale was scored as follows: Strongly Agree (4); Agree (3); Disagree (2) and Strongly Disagree (1). The instrument was subjected to scrutiny by three specialists in Psychology for the purpose of obtaining content validity.

The second instrument consists of data collected from a secondary source: Three Area courts in Gboko Local Government Area. The instrument was used to answer the research hypotheses. Date collected revealed the sex of divorce summons, occupation and level of educational attainment of all divorce cases from 2005 - July 2009.

Reliability
The first instrument (PSEDI) was administered on 20 males and 20 females representing 40% of the target sample for the study. A test-retest method was used for the study to determine co-efficient of stability of the instrument. It was administered after two weeks interval. The two sets of scores obtained were correlated using the person’s product moment correlation formula. A correlation co-efficient of 78 was obtained. The instrument was therefore considered to be reliable and statistically suitable for research use.
The second instrument was equally considered reliable since it was obtained from a reliable secondary source (Area Courts in Gboko Local Government Area) on the number of divorce cases handled from 2005 to July 2009.

Method of data analysis
The first instrument (PSEDI) was administered personally on the participants. The questionnaires were collected and analyzed using percentages to determine the factors responsible for, and the psychosocial effects of divorce on family offsprings. Data collected from the secondary source (Area Courts) were computed using percentages.
The t-test and x2 research statistics were used to determine the significant difference in the sex of spouses that initiated divorce as well as the influence of occupation and education attainment and divorce. For this study, a spouse is considered educated when he or she has a secondary school certificate.

Results


Table 1: Summary table showing the number of legal divorce cases registered by the three Area Courts in Gboko Local Government Area presented in percentages.

YEAR

UPPER COURT
I

UPPER COURT
II

GRADE I AREA
COURT

TOTAL

%

2005

7

20

-

27

30

2006

4

11

3

18

20

2007

11

9

1

21

23.3

2008

4

8

-

12

13.3

2009

4

8

-

12

13.3

TOTAL

30

56

4

90

100


Table 1 shows that the highest number of legal cases of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area was recorded in 2005 with 30%. This is followed by 2007 with 23.3% and 2006 with 20%. 2008 and the first half of 2009 recorded 13.3% each, which implies that the number of divorce cases for 2009 is likely to be very high by the end of the year.


Table 2. Factors that are responsible for the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area presented in percentages.

S/N0.

ITEMS

%

1.
2.
3

4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.

16.
17.
18.
19.
20.

Inability to produce children(barrenness/Impotence)
Inability to sexually satisfy a spouse
Inability of a spouse to limit sexual intimacy to one’s life-
time partner.
Domestic violence(nagging/battering)
Parents undue interference in the marriage of children
Sugar daddy/Mummy syndrome
Disagreement in role obligation
Poor social habit of a spouse (dirtiness, drunkenness etc)
Social tolerance of divorce by  the society
Disapproval of marriage by kins
Poor economic status of couples
Premature marriage(below 19 years)
Disparity in educational attainment
Marriage with short courtship (less than 6 months)
Membership of different religious faith (Christian/Islam/Traditional Religion)
Undue emphasis on women liberation
Women have become less dependent on men economically
Adoption of liberal divorce laws by the Judiciary
Dissimilarity of background (urban/rural settings)
Age of spouse at  marriage

100
100

100
100
100
95
90
88
86
83
82
80
77
74

60
50
45
34
19
18


Table 2 shows that all the participants agreed that the inability of couples to produce children; the inability to sexually satisfy a spouse; the inability of spouse to limit sexual intimacy to one’s life-time partner;   domestic violence in the family and parents undue interference in the marriage of children are the basic factors responsible for the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government area of Benue state with a score of 100% each. The next factors in importance are the sugar daddy/mummy syndrome 95%; disagreement in role obligation 90%; poor social habit of a spouse 88%; social tolerance of divorce in the society h 86%; disapproval of marriage by kinsmen 83%; premature marriage with 80%; disparity in educational attainment 77% and marriage with short courtship 74%.


Table 3: Psychosocial effects of divorce on family offsprings in Gboko Local          Government Area by percentages.


S/NO

ITEM

%

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Deprivation of parental care and love
Little or no security of children
Lowered self-esteem
Development of aggressive behaviour
Getting a model outside the home
Development of anti-social behaviour by children
Feeling of isolation due to single parenting
Labeling children as children of divorce

100
100
100
100
100
96
92
87


Table 3 shows that all the participants in the study are totally in agreement with some of the psychosocial effects of divorce on the family offsprings such as deprivation; insecurity; lowered self esteem, aggressive behaviour and getting a model from outside the home with 100% each. Others are the development of anti-social behaviours such as bad manners, poor dressing, immorality, sleeping outside the home, smoking, drunkenness etc h 96%; feeling of isolation 92% and labeling children as children of divorce which can result into psychological trauma, anxiety and depression 87%.

Hypothesis 1: there is no significant difference between the sex of spouse and divorce summons.
In order to answer hypothesis 1 and research question 3, data drawn from the three Area courts in Gboko Local Government Area (secondary source) was used as presented in table 4.


Table 4: t-test of mean difference between the sex of spouse and divorce summons.


Sex

n                 x                       sd               df           t-cal               

Male

Female

Total

48              1.88                 4.67  

42            2.14                  3.88              88         .130

90

P< .05 df =88 t-cal =.130 critical t-value = 1.960


Since the calculated t-value of .130 is less than the critical t-value of 1.960, the null hypothesis which states that there is no significant difference between the sex of spouse and divorce proposals is therefore retained. This implies that there is no sex difference between male and female spouses in the making of divorce summons in court. Both men and women alike initiate divorce.

Hypothesis 2: There is no significant influence of occupation of couples on the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area.

 In order to answer hypothesis 2 and research question 4, data drawn from the three Area Courts in Gboko Local Government Area (secondary source) was used as presented in table 5.


Table 5: x2-test on the influence of occupation on divorce


VARIABLES

n            x           df         x2

Farmer/Farmer partners
Farmer/Civil servant partners
Farmer/Business partners
Civil servant/Business partners
Business/business partners
Civil servant/civil servant partners
Total

35        2.6
9        10.0
5          18.9       5      45.1
8       11.3
10     9.0
23     3.9
90

P > .05    df =5    x2 –Cal=45.1   Critical x2-value = 11.070


Since the calculated x2 value of 45.1 is greater than the critical x2 value of 11.070 the null hypothesis which states that there is no significant influence of occupation on the prevalence of divorce is therefore, rejected. This implies that occupation of spouses influences divorce to a large extent.

Hypothesis 3: There is no significant influence of the level of educational attainment on divorce.
Data drawn from the three Area Courts in Gboko Local Government Area (Secondary source) was used as presented in table 6 to answer hypothesis 3 and question 5.


Table 6: x2 - test on the influence of educational attainment on divorce.


VARIABLES

n            x              df           x2          

Education/uneducated partners
Educated/educated partners
Uneducated/uneducated partners
Total

25         3.6    
21        4.3             2          8.4
44         2.1
90

P >   .05   df = 2   x2 - Cal =8.4 critical x2 – value = 5.991


Since the calculated x2 value of8.4 is greater than the critical x2 value of 5.991, the null hypothesis which states that there is no significant influence of educational attainment on divorce is therefore, rejected. This implies that educational attainment of couples has a significant influence on divorce.

Discussion of findings
Findings in table 1 reveal that the rate of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area has been fluctuating. The difficulty involved in the collection of actual number of couples that have engaged in divorce is shown by the relatively small number. The number of cases recorded represents only the few couples that legally terminated their marriages in court but the number of divorce cases  done outside the court is seemingly more than five times the number that are recorded legally. However, Table 1 shows an increase in the rate of divorce in 2005 with 30% and 2007 with 23.3% but decreased slightly in 2006 to 20%. Between January and July 2009, the rate of divorce had risen to 13.3%. By projection, this study estimates that the rate of divorce by the end of 2009 is likely to rise  to about 30%. This calls for a serious concern. The prevalence of divorce as shown in table 1 confirms the increase in the rate of divorce both in Nigeria and beyond as indicated by divorce rate (2009), which places the divorce rate in America at 50% and  Ahmed in Dada & Idowu (2006) discovered that 509 divorce cases were registered in Ilorin metropolis in 1988 and 616 in 1989.

Table 2 shows that the most fundamental factors responsible for the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area are the inability of couples to give birth to children due to barrenness or impotence; the inability of a spouse to sexually satisfy his/her partner; inability of a spouse to remain sexually faithful to his/her partner; domestic violence arising from frequent nagging and battering in the home as well as parents’ undue interference in the marriage of their children. This is in line with the findings of  Lar, Okpede & Bulus (1992), Norton & Miller in Schaefer & Lamm (1998) as well as Divorcé rate (2009, P.1) which states that “66% of all divorced couples are childless” and that “childlessness is the most common cause of divorce because the absence of children leads to loneliness and weariness”

Table 3 reveals 8 psychosocial effects of divorce on family offsprings in Gboko Local Government Area. They are the deprivation of children from parental care and love; insecurity of children; lowered self-esteem of children; development of aggressive behaviour; getting a model from outside the home; development of anti-social behaviours; feeling of isolation and the trauma of labeling children as children of divorce parents. This is a confirmation of the assertion of Schaefer & Lamm (1998); Orhungur (2003), Young people Ask (2006) and Laha (2007) that since children of divorce homes lack care and attention, they tend to engage in extreme dangerous behaviours and develop their own models outside the home. According to Kalter in Schaefer & Lamm (1998, P.398), “children of divorce homes suffer a feeling of lowered self-worth and have a greater tendency towards aggressiveness and other anti-social behaviours”.
The study reveals that there is no significant difference between the sex of spouse and divorce summons. This implies that male and female alike initiate divorce depending on their reasons for incompatibility The second hypothesis indicates that there is a significant influence of occupation on divorce. In other words, the type of occupation of couples greatly influences divorce. The table showed that couples who are farmers have the highest rate of divorce. This may be due to the hardship they face in adequately taking care of their children due to poor socio-economic standing in the family. This is in line with the assertion of Schaefer & Lamm (1998) that couples whose socio-economic status is poor due to the low income they realized from their occupation are more likely to engage in divorce.

The third hypothesis reveals that the level of educational attainment of couples has significant influence on the prevalence of divorce in Gboko Local Government Area. This is shown by the high number of uneducated couples followed by those who are educated but got married to uneducated spouses. The rate of divorce in marriages where both couples are educated is relatively low. This is in line with the findings of Jegede (1991) and Duntoye in Dada & Idowu (2006) which revealed that educational level of couples plays a significant part in marital stability.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Counselling is commonly known to be a face to face interaction between a professional counsellor and an individual or a group of individuals who are confronted with          educational, vocational or personal-social problems with the sole objective of assisting   the individual(s) arrive at the solution to his/her problem. according to Akinade (2005, P.38) counseling is the application of mental health, psychological or human development principles, through collective, affective, behavioural or systemic intervention strategies, that address wellness, personal growth or career development as well as pathology”.
The following preventive and intervention strategies have been recommended by this study as plausible means of curbing the increase in the rate of divorce in our society. One of the preventive strategies recommended is the Divorce Prevention Programme (DPP) develop by the researcher. This is a programme that is expected to be organized by all branches of the counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) in the country. This would be done through community education; sensitization programmes on our media stations and group counselling programmes that will be taken to organizations and ministries. Major issues of focus in DPP are the significance of understanding individual differences, communication network and self-disclosure on marital stability. This would adequately take care of marital and pre-marital counselling for individuals outside the school setting.

For students in Colleges and tertiary institutions, this study recommends sexuality education where students will receive the knowledge of interpersonal relationships; family stability, true love, tolerance and moral discipline. All these will enable youths contribute meaningfully to marital situations in their families and plan adequately for stable homes when they finally get married. Sexuality education should be made compulsory for all students so that the purpose of the curriculum will be realized.
This study equally recommends that as a matter of policy, government should consider the attachment of marriage or family counselling unit to each of the social welfare division in every state of the federation so that they can deal with most family problems including divorce especially at the grassroot before they get out of hand.

The Divorce Intervention Programme (DIP) designed by the researcher is hereby recommended as a possible strategy that will assist professional counselors in handling cases of divorce that have already occurred but one of the couples or the children of the relationship sued for a reunion. The Strategy is in three phases- Inquiry; Intervention and Re-union. The first step involves an interactive session with the spouse that came for counselling. This is followed with an interaction with other members of the family on separate occasions. During these various interactive sessions, counsellor takes note of the factors that led to divorce while acting as a facilitator. Counselling techniques and skills of Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis should be applied simultaneously. The second step is the counsellor’s interaction with the couple together; children and their mother together; children and their father together. Effort at this stage is to reconcile the various groups in the family so that they can be encouraged to state in clear terms those things that can be avoided or done so that peace and stability will be enhanced. Appropriate behaviour modification techniques could be applied. The final step is the reunion of all the members of the family. Each of them would be given the priviledge of expressing their feelings and making a solemn promise of ensuring that stability in the family will never be altered. They are then requested by the counsellor who is the moderator to embrace one another.

References
Akinade, E.A (2005). Dictionary of Guidance and Counselling. (Counselling  Psychology). Ibadan: Olu-            Akin.

Anthony Hodges (Ed) (2001). Children’s and Women’s Rights in Nigeria: A wake-up call.Abuja:     National Planning Commission.

Dada, M. F and Idowu A.I. (2006).  Factors enhancing Marital Stability as perceived by      educated spouses in Ilorin Metropolis in the Journal of the Counselling Association      of Nigeria (CASSON) 22 (1) 127-138.

Divorce Rate (2009). Current Divorce Rate in America. Retrieved July 31, 2009 from                      http://w.w.w. divorcerate.org.

Eze-Echesi (2009).  Nigeria has sufficient laws to protect families. Guardian News Paper. June       9,P.91

Jegede, R.O. (1991).  Marriage and family living in the Nineties.
            Jos: Great Commission Movement.

Laha G.B. (2007). Family factors in Examination malpractices in Nigeria in Conference        proceedings of the Nigerian Society for Educational Psychologists (NISEP)  5 (1) 1-9.

Lar, C.T; Okpede, O.D. & Bulus, I (1992). New Perspectives in Guidance and  Counselling.Jos:      Fab Educational Books.

Mambula, M (1999) . The Making of a Happy and Successful Family. Jos; Fab Educational Books.

Moore, K.A. (1995). Report to Congress on Out-of Wedlock child bearing. Washington, D.C:           Child             Trends.

Nwoye, A. (1991).  Marriage and Family Counselling. Jos Fab Educational Books.

Orhungur, M,.M. (1990).  Educational Trinity: Home, Child, School Jos: Fab Educational Books.

Orhungur , M.M. (2003).  Discipline: Theory and Practice. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.

Schaefer, R.T.and Lamm,R.P (1998).  Sociology. New York: McGraw-Hill

Wegh F.S. (2007). The Nigerian Family and value orientation in Conference proceedings of the        Nigerian Society for Educational Psychologists 5 (1) 141-146.

Young People Ask (2006). The Questions Young people Ask: Answers that work. New York:             WatchTower Bible and Tract Society.