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散文佳作108篇 第62期:Divorce and Kids 离婚与孩子

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Divorce and Kids

离婚与孩子

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead

巴巴拉·达福·怀特黑德

Divorce is transforming the lives of American children.In the past World War 2 generation, morethan 80 percent of children grew up with both biological parents. Today only half will do so.Each year more than a million children experience family breakup: about as many are born outof wedlock.

离婚正在改变美国儿童的生活。二次世界大战后的一代人中,80%以上的儿童都在亲生父母身边长大。今天只有半数是如此。每年有一百多万儿童的家庭破裂,这与非婚生儿的数量大体相同。

At the same time, the problems associated with family disruption have grown. Overall child well-being has declined,despite historically high public spending. The teen suicide rate has almosttripled. Juvenile crime has increased and become more violent. School performance has beenpoor.

与此同时,家庭破裂带来的问题层出不穷。尽管政府的开支历来很大,儿童总的生活水平却有所下降。青少年的自杀率几乎增长了两倍。青少年犯罪率上升,而且暴力案件越来越多,而学业成绩甚差。

离婚与孩子

Given such a dramatic impact on children’s lives, one might expect today’s high divorce rate tobe viewed more widely as a national crises. Yet, those who argue that it poses a serious threatare dismissed as being pessimistic or nostalgic, unwilling to accept the new facts of life. Thedominant view in the popular culture is that the changes in family structure are, on balance,positive. And until recently there was little hard evidence to confirm or dispute thisassumption.

儿童的生活既然受到如此显著的影响,有人可能把当今的高离婚率视作一场全国性的危机。然而,持有这种观点的人却被斥之为过分悲观或怀旧,被认为是不愿接受新的生活现实。大众文化普遍认为,家庭结构的变化总的说来是积极的。但直到最近还没有什么确凿的证据可以证实或反驳这种说法。

A 1940s book on divorce asserted:” Children are entitled to the affection and association oftwo parents, not one.” In the 1950s most Americans believed parents should stay in anunhappy marriage to avoid damaging the children.

40年代的一本论述离婚的书曾称:“孩子有权享有父母双方而不是其中一方的宠爱和关怀”。50年代,多数美国人认为,做父母的即使婚姻不美满,也要维持下去,以免伤害孩子。

But by mid-1970s what had once been regarded as hostile to children’s best interests wasconsidered essential to adults’ happiness. “A two-parent home is not the only emotionalstructure within which a child can be happy and healthy,” a popular divorce book of this eraproclaimed. “The parents who take care of themselves will be best able to take care of theirchildren.”

但到70年代中期,人们的观念有所改变,原先说离婚会伤害子女们的最高利益,此时则认为离婚是关乎成人幸福的大事。当年一本论述离婚的畅销书声称:“双亲家庭并不是唯一能让孩子过得健康快乐的情感寄托所,做父母的只有照顾好自己才能更好地照顾好孩子。”

As this optimistic view took shape, many expects believed that the psychological impact ofdivorce on children was like a bad cold. There was a phase of acute discomfort, then a shortrecovery。 Kids would be back on their feet in no time, with no lasting harm.

这种乐观的看法一形成,就有许多专家认为,离异对孩子心理上的影响好比患了重感冒:开始一段时间会极不舒服,接着是短暂的恢复期。不久孩子得到康复,痛苦渐渐消失。

By the early 1980s, however, nearly two decades had passed since the changes in family life hadbegun. During the intervening years a fuller body of empirical research had emerged: studiesthat used large samples, or followed families through time, or did both. Moreover, several of thestudies offered a child’s-eye view of family disruption.

然而到80年代初,家庭生活中发生的这种婚姻变化已经历了近二十个年头。在此期间,大量以经验为依据的研究工作脱颖而出:或广泛调查大批实例,或长期跟踪家庭进行研究,或双管齐下。而且,不少研究还提供了孩子对家庭破裂的看法。

In 1971 Judith Wallerstein, a clinical psychologist, and her staff began interviewing middle-class children in the San Francisco area at the time their parents broke up. She discovered thechildren seemed to be doing worse. Five years after breakup, her research shows, more than athird of the children were experiencing moderate or severe depression. At ten years asignificant number to be troubled, drifting, underachieving. At 15 years many, now adults,were struggling to establish strong love relationships of their own.

1971年,临床心理学家朱迪斯·沃勒斯坦及其工作人员开始走访旧金山地区一些中产阶级家庭的孩子——当时他们父母的关系已破裂,有的已离异一年之久。她并没有发现孩子的感情有什么奇迹般的恢复;事实上,这些孩子的情况似乎每况愈下。

Five years after breakup, her research shows, more than a third of the children wereexperiencing moderate or severe depression. At ten years a significant number appeared tobe troubled, drifting, underachieving. At 15 years many, now adults, were struggling toestablish strong love relationships of their own.

她的研究表明,在家庭破裂5年后,三分之一以上的孩子患有中度或严重的抑郁症。10年后,有一大批孩子表现得心情苦恼,变化无常,学习成绩差,15年后,许多人都已成年了,就拼命建立自己真正心爱的牢固关系。

Research shows that girls in single-parent families are at greater risk for teenage marriage,nonmarital birth, and divorce than girls in two-parent families---and that this is true regardlessof race or income. Also, children in disrupted families are nearly twice as likely to drop out ofhigh school. Boys are at greater risk of dropping out than girls and are more prone toaggressive behavior.

研究表明,单亲家庭女孩的冒险性大于双亲家庭的女孩:性早熟,十几岁结婚,少年怀孕,非婚生育,离婚 —— 而且不分种族、肤色和收入,都是如此。再者,家庭分裂的孩子中学退学率几乎要高出一倍。男孩比女孩更容易退学,更好寻衅闹事。

Scholars also find significant difference in educational attainment. According to a 1980 study bythe National Association of Elementary School Principals, 30 parent of Two-parent elementarystudents ranks as high achievers, as compared with 17 percent of single-parent of single-parent students. The children in single-parent families were also more likely to be truant orreceive disciplinary action.

学者们还发现,在学业成绩上也有显著差异。根椐1980年全国小学校长协会的一项调查,在双亲家庭的小学生中,有百分之三十为优等生,而在单亲家庭的孩子中只有百分之十七为优等生。单亲家庭的子女逃学或受处分的情况也屡见不鲜。

Since most children live with their mothers after divorce, one might expect that the mother-childbond would even be strengthened. Yet research shows that only half the children whosemothers were protective before a divorce. Moreover, the mother-child relationships deterioratedover time.

由于多数孩子在父母离婚后跟母亲过,有人以为母子关系会因此而加深,但研究表明,仅有半数孩子的母亲在离婚后还能保持离婚前的那种慈幼关系。何况这种母子关系是随时间而衰退的。

Family disruption has been suggested as a central cause of many vexing social problems, aswell.

有人提出,家庭破裂还是引发许多恼人的社会问题的主要原因。

Nationally, over 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from homes withoutboth parents present. Family breakup is thought to be an important source of high crime ratesin the nation’s cities. And, according to one study, its influence is independent of race orincome.

从全国来看,在州立管教所中,有百分之七十的少年犯来自非双亲家庭。家庭破裂是全国城市犯罪率高的一个重要原因。有一项调查还说,其影响所及,非种族或收入所能限制。

Nowhere has the impact of family breakup been more profound than in our schools. Acrossthe nation, principals report a dramatic rise in the aggressive, acting-out behaviorcharacteristic of children living in single-parent families.

我们的学校受到家庭破裂的影响最大。校长们的报告指出,在全国范围内,住在单亲家庭中的孩子所特有的那种寻衅闹事的发泄行为已明显增加。

Over the past 25 years Americans have been conducting a vast natural experiment in family life.The results are becoming clear. Adults have benefited from the changes, but not children.Indeed, this may be the first generation to do worse psychologically and socially than theirparents.

在过去的25年里,美国人一直在家庭生活中进行着一项庞大而又顺乎自然的试验。其结果日见明朗。成从变化中得益,儿童则不然。说真的,这一代子女,也许是心理上、社会上都不如自己父母的第一代人。

The novelist Pat Conroy has observed that"each divorce is the death of a small civilization. "Noone feels this more acutely than children.

小说家帕特·康洛伊说过:“每一起离异都是一小点文明的泯灭。”痛感于此者,莫过于儿童了。


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