THE CONSEQUENCES OF DIVORCE IN BENIN KINGDOM
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The family that emerges from a marriage has some basic functions which make it unique. Bilton, Bonnett, Jones, Sheard, Stanworth and Webster (2001) observed that in all societies the family must perform some basic functions involving conception and birth, regular intercourse, socialization and maintenance functions of providing economic support and physical protection for the children as they mature. In fact, each spouse is a source of emotional support and companionship for the other (Filani, 2005). In Nigeria today, the influence of industrialization and urbanization has affected the social system of the country, a part of which is the marriage system. As new cultural patterns, new aspirations and behavioural norms have emerged and as the traditional social ties undergo changes, social control becomes weakened. The family is a sensitive institution and it monitors all these changes and reacts to them by experiencing disorganization. Since the traditional family structure has been so seriously Littered, the functions have equally been affected, and many of it important roles are now known to be associated with many
forms of instability.
Marital instability according to Filani 2005), is a breakdown in communication among couples resulting in constant arguments, verbal and physical aggression psychological ill health, emotional and physical separation and sometimes divorce. Filani further noted that marital instability can result from death of spouse, desertion of the spouses, mutual separation of spouses and legal separation of spouses. Of all these factors of marital instability, divorce seems to be the most popular and most copiously documented. Divorce, according to Bohanna (2003), is a complex phenomenon n human relationship and that it takes place in six stages, these are emotional divorce stage, economic divorce stage, legal divorce stage, co-parental divorce stage, community and psycho, divorce stages. Thus, Lands (2005) explained that divorce becomes a climax to a long story of unhappiness and it provides a legal way out of a situation which one or both parties have considered intolerable. Literature review on marriage shows a number of factors causing divorce in marriage. For instance, Thornton (2001) indicated age and age at marriage as the two most powerful predictors of divorce; Otite and Ogionwo (2001) argued that childlessness in a marriage can lead to divorce in Nigeria; Olayinka (2007) stressed the importance f communication in marital stability; extramarital sex and discrepancy in mate traits have been stressed by Ezenkwu (2008) and Decker (2007) respectively. Olusanya (1970) and Yagoob (1984) identified lack of children, economic factors, communication problems, interference of in-laws and education of spouses as the causes of divorce.
` The prevalence of divorce cases in the world today cannot be overemphasized. Weikel and Wilson (2006) stated that divorce in U.S. by 79% between 1970 to 1977 and that one third or more of the marriages f people aged 25 to 35 years will end in divorce. Grebe (2006) also stated that in 1976, a National Centre for Health Statistics study projected that by early 1980s, 49% of all marriages would end in divorce and in fact in the U.S. during 1983, there were 10.5 marriages per ,000 people and 5.0 divorces per 1,000 people (National Centre for Health statistics Personal Communication (2004). Statistical records of marital instability are not compiled in Nigeria as yet. But Newspaper often report cases of marital disruption m weekly basis in Lagos and its environs. For example Solana (1990) reported the case of kids (aged 12 to 16 years) who were of broken homes in the Weekend Concord of September 22nd 1990. These kids according to him have become a nuisance at the Lagos City Hall during parties as they parade and fan invitees in bids to earn a living. In Kwara State, the Ministry of Information and Culture recorded that 1,697 Marriages were registered for both the Churches and Marriage Registry from 1984-1988. During the same period (1984-88) there were 12, 104 divorces (Court case file, Child Welfare Centre and Oja-oba Area Courts, Ilorin). According to these records, the rate of divorces over marriages is at 71% approximately 7 divorces to every marriage (7:1). Ahmed (1990) has opined that the rate of divorce in Ilorin and its environs is increasing at an alarming rate.
This rate of divorce should strike counsellors as a problem worthy of ‘serious therapeutic attention because it is one of the most terrifying sources of psychological, social and educational problems in the society.
Since a large proportion of families are experiencing marital disorganization, counsellors should find practical solutions to minimize the problems. Divorce has been found to have social, psychological and educational effects on the children of
divorced parents, the spouses themselves and even the general public. Katu (2008) stressed that most social misfits found in Nigerian urban areas are products of broken homes. Frank (2000) also noted that even the spouses themselves have been found to experience loneliness, stress and strain. In view of these, there is the need for experts to find means of ensuring marital stability so as to avoid the constant breakages marital relationship. Thus, Olusanya (2000) found education to be a factor that positively affects marital stability and concluded that the more the education of the spouses the more stable their marriage will be. In an earlier study, Click and Norton (2001) observed that men who complete college have lower probability of divorce than men who complete only high school or who leave college without graduating. This therefore, shows that education makes for an increase sense of responsibility within marriage. It is therefore the aim of this study to find out what married students of tertiary institutions in Ilorin perceive as the causes of divorce so that solutions to the incessant divorce cases within our society might be found.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There are many consequences with divorce which at the long run reflect on the children in Benin City and Nigeria at large. Some of these problems are;
i. There is increase in domestic work and redistribution of household chores, which leaves the children with little or no time for their studies
ii. In security, step parent do not show much love and affection to their step children. Thus, these children suffer from mental retardation, personality improvement and are always miserable. They show behavioral responses like lying, stealing, building and playing truant in school.
iii. Also, it has been observed that children from broken homes suffer some other problems such as non-provision of some basic material needs like food, clothing and learning material etc.
iv. Bridging of a gap on the children’s existence because there is no adult to guide and direct their behavior and desires as children learn by limitation.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The researcher is interested in the study of consequences of divorce on children in Benin City, because of the recent trend of divorce there have been decrease in the performance of children in schools which is giving much concern to most Edo State indigenes as to where we are heading to. In view of this, this study is geared towards identifying the causes and consequences of divorce on children in Benin City, Nigeria.
Also, to educate married couples and the general public of the consequences of divorce on the children in Benin City and to encourage them to live harmoniously in order to bring up children who will successfully fit into the society and become useful to themselves and finally make necessary recommendations.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study will give the researcher a deep insight into the consequences of divorce on children in Benin City in particular and Nigeria in general, because whatever happens in the home has a bearing on the children in the society.
Therefore, it is necessary to educate the youngsters who are yet to marry about the causes and consequences of divorce on the children in Benin City and Nigeria at large. This will make youngsters to be careful when choosing their life partners.
Lastly, the findings from this study will give parents who are divorced and children from divorced homes the understanding of the problems experienced and give them assurance about their future.
a. What are the causes of divorce on the children in Benin City?
b. Does divorce has any effect on the behaviour children?
c. Do couples realize that problem in marriage can lead to divorce?
d. Does psychological and emotional disturbance lead to academic and social backwardness of children in the society?
e. Does insecurity and unruly attitude of stepmothers to children from divorced homes make them steal in society?
f. What are the likely factors that can lead to divorce?
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is on divorce and its consequences in Benin Kingdom, and it is limited only to the Benin speaking indigenes in Edo State only.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Family: A group of persons, two or more related by blood, marriage or adoption residing together; all such persons are considered as members of one family
Marriage: union of man woman as husband and wife.
Couple: two persons seen together as husband and wife.
Divorce: put an end to a marriage by law of husband or wife sexually outside matrimonial home.
Infidelity: Disloyalty or a state of being unfaithful to the husband or wife sexuality out matrimonial home
Youngster: Young person or young boys and girls yet to marry.
Early marriage: A situation where either of the spouse is not ripe enough for marriage before getting married.
Universal escape: Means of regaining freedom from tensions of marriage
Family goals: the aims and objective which a family strive to achieve for better living.