The study examines the causes and the implications of broken homes on child development. This is as a result of the fact that the scourge of criminality and any other social vises are attributed to children from broken homes. The study reviewed some relevant literature based on the objectives of the study, and functionalist theories and perspectives were used to explain the phenomenon being investigated. Questionnaires, in-depth interviews were the instruments used to collect data which was analysed and presented in tabular forms. The study also revealed some of the causes of broken homes which were confirmed during the research. It also identified a number of consequences of broken homes on child development. The study equally explored various strategies adopted by the children from broken homes to cope with the situation they found themselves. Also various suggestions were obtained on how to curb or mitigate the incidence of divorce.



1.0 Background of the Study

The family is the oldest institution in history and remains the most irreducible nucleus of all known societies. It is established by the institution of marriage, ensures the reproduction of human species and confers executive conjugal right on couples. According to Aku (2007), the family is regarded as the oldest institution on earth that plays an important role in human society. It is a universal social institution, but the types vary from one society to the other and also from one culture to another.

The variations in family composition gives rise to the different types of family, namely; extended and nuclear family. In the pre-colonial African society the extended family system was most cherished, unlike in the western societies, which cherished the nuclear type of family. In Nigeria today, the family is increasingly oriented towards nuclear type where it consists of father, mother and children,however, there are modifications as the nuclear extended types of families accommodate some extended family members like grandparents, siblings’etc grand-parents.

In general, the family whether nuclear or extended, performs functions such as, procreation, sex regulation, socialization, security, emotional support etc. The family usually begins with marriage. It creates new social relationships, roles, rights and obligations not just between the spouses or partners but between the kinsmen on both sides of the couple. Marriage is a union between man and a woman or women such that children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both parents (Igbo, 2003).

In Africa, marriage is usually accompanied with elaborate ceremonies which are primarily aimed at enhancing the stability of the union. Among such ceremonies are religious rituals, payment of bride wealth, and involvement of spouses’ families among others, which seem to make divorce a rare phenomenon in pre-colonial times (Aku, ibid).

In most cultures marriage ismeant to be a lifelong contract,but the stability that characterize pre-colonial African families seems to have disappeared with the alarming incidence of divorce and separation. It would appear that families in contemporary time are confronted by a myriad of pressures which are yet to be properly addressed (Fumerayem, 1991). Some pressures sometimes result in failed marriages, either through divorce or separation. Failed marriages could also mean homes where there is persistent conflict or where there is residential separation between spouses who were hitherto living together in legitimate marital cohabitation.