A new study out of Spain centered on the effects of divorce on children. Many couples considering divorce worry about how their children will deal with the separation. Researchers studied 467 children aged two to 18 of both married/living together and divorced couples to track the emotional and physical health of the children and their parents.
The Spanish researchers found a link between high levels of conflict between parents such as violence, lack of communication, and poor co-parenting, and physical and emotional ailments. The children of the separated or divorced parents had twice the risk of stomach problems, skin problems, or headaches – all common stress-related health problems. According to the lead researcher for the study, “If children are exposed to these (difficult) family situations for prolonged periods, they often experience toxic stress.”
The study concludes it is not necessarily the divorce itself, but rather the behavior of the parents that significantly affects the health of the children. The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study in 2012 that produced the same results. The American study found that children are able to overcome obstacles and adversity in their lives, including divorce, if they have the love and support of their parents throughout the adjustment period.
Couples considering a divorce should ask themselves if it will reduce the amount of stress on the children. A divorce could be a relief to all the family members if the alternative is daily tension and strife. Parents may be able to create a more positive and harmonious situation for their children when they are no longer engaged in constant conflict with each other. If they are willing to cooperate and show kindness to each another as they end their relationship, they can spare their children exposure to the kind of toxic stress that leads to emotional and physical health problems.
An experienced family law attorney can assist with mediation or collaborative divorce; both are avenues that can avoid the stress of costly, bitter legal battles. It may also help to have a therapist available to help with psychological support for family members during the divorce process.
Divorce will have an impact on everyone in the family, no matter their age. Many adults internalize stress to some degree, but children tend to blame themselves for the arguments going on at home. Staying together for the sake of the children can end up hurting them more than it will help them.
If you are considering a divorce, contact a West Chester divorce lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloan, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. who can help you determine the most appropriate legal course of action during this difficult time. Call us at 610-565-3700 or contact us online. From our offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania we serve clients throughout the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area.