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Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

For the Children - New study shows how your divorce may have negative impact on kids

Often parents who are unhappy in their marriages hesitate to divorce for fear of the impact it will have on their kids. Indeed, there’s been a lot of research on the implications of divorce on the emotional welfare of children, but a new study by the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain recently shed new light on exactly how divorce may be detrimental.

"It is not the break-up in itself that has negative effects on the children's health, but improper handling of the situation by the parents," says María Dolores Seijo Martínez, a researcher at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) and co-author of the newly released study.

The study surveyed families where the parents were together or divorced. The physical and emotional well being of 467 boys and girls between the ages of two and 18 was examined. Researchers found that the children of separated parents are approximately twice as likely to develop gastrointestinal, genitourinary, dermatological or neurological issues than children living in nuclear families.

Martinez believes prolonged stress is to blame for the physical effects. “Poor handling involves very high levels of inter-parental conflict, which makes it very difficult to maintain a good relationship,” she says. “If children are exposed to these family situations for prolonged periods, they often experience toxic stress.”

In other words, it’s not divorce, per se, that causes children to sustain physical and emotional damage. Exposure to inter-parental conflict is the culprit.

These findings echoed a 10-year longitudinal study published in 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Successfully reestablished family or a successful remarriage can improve the quality of life for both adults and children,” AAP researchers, Judith S. Wallerstei and Janet R. Johnston, stated in the study’s synopsis. “The divorce may resolve the family conflict and allow the children to preserve a relationship with both parents. Divorce may also be useful in putting some distance between a child and a disturbed parent.”

As difficult as it may be, modeling civility after your divorce may even bring about benefits for your children. The AAP study affirmed that when household tension is relieved and mom and dad handle divorce in a mature, compassionate manner, children are more likely to develop a high value on sustaining relationships, on love, fidelity, and compassion.

For tips on how to help ease the long-term effects of divorce, read our blog, Navigating Divorce with Children.

 


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