Ending a marriage is hard. It takes years to build a relationship and family; it can take time to dismantle it. For many couples in Colorado, the divorce process is full of conflict, and, unfortunately, that conflict can negatively impact children. If you are ready to go through the divorce process, experts suggest you do everything possible to keep your kids out of the line of fire. Their mental health depends on it.
Researchers at Arizona State University recently published study findings on this very subject. In short, they found that children exposed to conflict associated with divorce tend to suffer mental health problems in the future.
The study details
To get a better understanding of how divorce impacts children, researchers at ASU surveyed kids about any conflict they were witness to during their parents’ divorces or separations. Researchers asked questions similar to:
- Did your parents fight in front of you?
- Did either of your parents speak poorly of the other to you?
- Did either of your parents use you to relay messages to the other?
The children involved in the survey came from families taking part in the university’s New Beginnings Program. The ages of the kids ranged from nine to 18.
What were the findings?
According to psychologists, conflict, in any form, is a stressor to kids. When it comes to conflict witnessed during the divorce or separation process, many children claimed it caused them to worry about one or both parents abandoning them. That fear of abandonment was often persistent and lasted for up to 10 months after the completion of the divorce or separation process. Researchers say frequently worrying about abandonment can contribute to mental health problems down the line.
Researchers thought that kids who had strong bonds with one or both parents would experience less stress or fear of abandonment, but they found that was not actually the case. Relationship quality offered some but little protection from children feeling these things when exposed to a high level of conflict between their parents.
How you can help your kids
Difficult as it may be, keeping things civil during and after the divorce or separation process, particularly when your children are around, is the best thing you can do to protect them. If you want to fight or speak poorly of your ex, do what you can to keep it from your kids.