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Could Divorce Negatively Impact a Child's Health?

Although the divorce rate has fallen over the last several years, there are still many families that separate each year. When a child is at the center of that family, parents often worry if the divorce will negatively impact the mental and emotional health of their child. Countless studies suggest this could be the case, including a recent one that was supported by the National Institute for Mental Health, but there may be less to worry about than the experts let on - especially if parents know how to mitigate against the possible risks. 

Examining the Possible Impact of Divorce

Society often thinks of children as "resilient" and capable of overcoming the obstacles they face early in life. On one hand, there is some truth to that. On the other hand, there is a real risk of emotional trauma. For example, children who experience parental alienation may experience long-term complications, such as disdain for the alienated parent. Alternatively, the child may have a sense that there is something wrong with them because they still love the alienated parent, despite all the "horrible" things they have allegedly done. As a result, the child may be prone to depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem.

Children who experience high conflict divorce may also be traumatized by the experience. In fact, anxiety and depression are common among children who frequently witness parental strife. Studies also indicate that children may experience relationship troubles in their own adult lives if they frequently experience familial conflict (which may be independent of divorce).

Mitigating Against the Risks

One of the most important steps that parents can take to protect their children is to remember that the divorce is between the adult parties, not the children and the parents. Mindful parents who do not have a risk of violence, neglect, or abuse understand this. They keep arguments under wraps and out of earshot of children. They never use their child as a bargaining chip or messenger. They do not lean on their child for emotional support and, instead, focus on being a place of comfort for their child when it is needed.

Studies also indicate that children fare better if they spend equal time (or close to equal time) with each parent. Part of this is because children typically continue to love, care for, and desire a bond with both of their parents, even after divorce. As such, it is highly recommended that parents strive to encourage a positive relationship between the child and each of their parents.

Contact Our Experienced Family Law Attorneys

If you are preparing for a divorce and have children, contact The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. for assistance. Our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys have a commitment to ensuring the rights and best interests of children are preserved, and we will work with you to develop a parenting plan that can hopefully satisfy all involved parties. Schedule a personalized consultation by calling 630-462-9500 today.

Sources:

https://law.ubalt.edu/academics/publications/lawreview/volumes/6_Warshak.41.1.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/upshot/the-divorce-surge-is-over-but-the-myth-lives-on.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/kids-divorce-risk-health-issues-study-article-1.3192778

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Wheaton, IL 60189

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