January 20, 2021
Children who are witness to conflict between separated to divorced parents are more vulnerable to develop physical and mental health problems, suggests a recent study.
According to study from the Arizona State University Research and Education Advancing Children’s Health (REACH) Institute, children who happen to see their separated or divorced parents engaging in conflict tend to experience fear of being abandoned.
“Conflict is a salient stressor for kids, and the link between exposure to interparental conflict and mental health problems in children is well established across all family types — married, cohabitating, separated and divorced,” said Karey O’Hara, a research assistant professor of psychology at ASU and first author on the paper.
Children witnessing conflict between divorced or separated parents are prone to experience fear that their parents would abandon them and this feeling is may lead to mental health problems in children, particularly who had strong relationships with their fathers.
“A strong father-child relationship came at a cost when interparental conflict was high,” O’Hara said. “Having a high quality parenting relationship is protective, but it is possible that quality parenting alone is not enough in the context of high levels of interparental conflict between divorced parents.”
As the study suggests, any conflict between parents who are married or cohabitating causes distress to children who worry about their parents separating. And unfortunately, any thought abandonment is linked to mental health problems, something that children reports and needs to be addressed.
Since quality parent-child relationships are associated with stress in children, the researchers expected children with strong relationships with a parent to experience less fear of abandonment and mental health problems.
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