A 2021 study revealed that divorce conflicts can lead to mental health problems in children.
In the study, the fears and worries of children whose parents got divorces were explored.
The study conducted by the Arizona State University Research and Education Advancing Children's Health (REACH) Institute showed that conflict affects children. When parents who divorced develop conflict, children are at risk of developing not only mental health problems but also physical problems.
The study was published last January 12.
Conflict and children
According to one of the researchers, Karey O'Hara, conflict is a prominent stressor for kids. This is evident in all family types. Whether the family has married parents, cohabitating, separated, or divorced, conflict is always a stressor among children.
However, O'Hara added, "Conflict between divorced or separated parents predicted children experiencing fear that they would be abandoned by one or both parents."
Because of this developed fear, children encounter mental health problems in the process. This observation is more prominent among children who are closer to their fathers.
Also, the study revealed that divorce conflict is viewed by children as a threat.
The study of the Arizona State University researchers was able to understand the way children interpreted divorce conflict by surveying families that participated in the New Beginnings Program.
The study surveyed 559 children. These children are ages nine to eighteen years old. These kids were asked about their exposure to divorce conflict.
The results of the study
It has already been established that when children see a conflict between their married parents, they are afraid that their parents will get divorced.
However, in the study explaining the effects of divorce conflict, O'Hara said, "Children whose parents are divorced or separated have already seen the dissolution of their family. The idea that they might be abandoned might be unlikely, but it is not illogical from their perspective."
The fear of abandonment
Among the children interviewed, the most common observation of researchers was that children witnessing divorce conflict are developing the fear of abandonment.
The study says, "Exposure to parental conflict predicted fear of abandonment three months later."
Mental health problems come into the picture because of this fear. Because the children are worried about being abandoned, they report themselves to their teacher 10 months later for mental health problems.
The goal of the study
The main reason for ASU REACH Institute's conducting the study is to promote children's welfare.
To be able to stay true to their goal, the research team who authored the study that revealed the divorce conflicts can lead to mental health problems in children is already working on an intervention design. This way, children can cope with conflict between their parents after the divorce.
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