Worrying about how children will react to divorce is normal.. Parents do not want the divorce to affect their child’s wellbeing in the long run. However, this can increase the stress that are already dealing with due to their marriage coming to an end.
Anew study suggests that it is not necessarily the divorce itself that impacts the children, but rather the level and frequency of conflict between their parents that has an impact on their long-term health overall.
Study links parental conflict with mental health concerns in kids
A recent study from the Arizona State University Research and Education Advancing Children’s Health Institute (REACH) found that conflict between divorced parents increased the risk of children experiencing mental and even physical health problems. This is not entirely new information. Several studies have determined that a high-conflict divorce can have significant effects on a child’s emotional and mental health.
However, the study from REACH indicated that there was a pattern leading to mental health problems. There were generally three stages:
- The high conflict between parents
- The conflict frequently led children to experience fear of abandonment
- The fear of abandonment contributed to the development of mental health problems
It is important to note that researchers stated there was a link correlating a child’s mental health problems and high conflict between parents whether the parents were married, separated or divorced. This issue was not unique to families experiencing divorce or the changes it brings.
What does this mean for divorcing parents?
The findings of this study or others like it does not mean parents should not pursue a divorce. After all, staying together and struggling with conflict can have similar effects. The findings should also not make parents feel guilty about ending their marriage or separating.
It is critical to remember that the primary issue here is parental conflict. Therefore, North Carolina parents seeking a divorce should:
- Take mindful steps to mitigate and avoid conflict, especially in front of their children
- Do not involve children in parental conflicts
- Consider taking a child-centered approach to their divorce
- Reassure children of their parent’s love, even if they seem strong
The child’s best interests are always an important factor in a divorce, particularly when determining child custody arrangements. Parents always think about what is best for their children, but they should make it an active priority throughout their divorce.