There are many sources that report how stressful parents’ divorces are for their children. After all, divorce is stressful for the whole family. It is a big life change, and there is no denying that it impacts kids, no matter their age.
It is natural for many parents to still worry about how the end of their marriage will impact their child’s emotions and behavior in the long term. However, a new study suggests that it is not entirely a divorce itself that affects a child’s emotional health, but the presence of conflict.
Parental conflict is the issue, whether married or divorced
Children understand and perceive much more than many adults give them credit for. Even young children can sense underlying tension in the home if their parents do not get along. Any type of conflict takes a toll on children, whether it is:
- Parents arguing or disagreeing in front of children
- Parents badmouthing each other behind their backs
- Parents having children act as messengers between them
And a recent study from Arizona State University found that it was this conflict between parents that had the greatest impact on children’s mental health – not necessarily divorce. After all, the study determined this was not only the case for children of divorced parents but for those with married parents as well.
What can parents do?
It is critical to be aware of the effects conflict can have on children, especially if parents are considering divorce. That can help North Carolina parents reduce the stress on their children – and perhaps even on themselves.
Even so, parents should still make sure they approach a divorce with great care. They should:
- Take steps to help children cope emotionally with the news
- Prioritize their best interests throughout the entire process
- Make efforts to avoid conflict, at least in front of the children
Adjusting to the new reality after divorce is challenging for the whole family. However, striving to reduce conflict can help families navigate this stressful change effectively and move into the next chapter of their lives successfully.