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How Can I Protect My Child’s Mental Health Through Divorce?

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How Can I Protect My Child’s Mental Health Through Divorce?

Recent studies have proven that kids have a tough time dealing with divorce. Unfortunately, there are no statistics on children of parents who stay in marriages that are failing. It is difficult to separate the emotional fallout of the divorce from the factors that caused the divorce in the first place. In other words, these kids may not be responding to the divorce per se, but rather the acrimony between their parents. This animosity would remain a present factor in their lives until the parents separated. So, concluding that children who struggle through divorces have worse mental health outcomes and tend to suffer from anxiety and depression more frequently than children of married couples comes short of proving that divorce itself is the problem. In fact, it may indicate that divorce is a solution.

There may be two stories in every newspaper article — the story that is told and the story that is left out. In this case, we have trained scientists testing children who have gone through divorce. However, they are not testing the children prior to the divorce and then after the parents have separated. So we really cannot say that divorce causes children to have poorer mental health outcomes. We can only say that being around parents who constantly fight or want to split up will cause mental health problems. 

Remember Why You Are Divorcing in the First Place

No one divorces expecting their life is going to be worse because of the move. However, it is stressful, even for the children. Children do not like major changes in their lives. Any major change is likely to cause some psychological distress. However, in cases where the situation at home is already stressful, there is at least some incentive to change. The older a child is, the more likely they are to understand your reasoning. You are trying to make your life and the lives of your children better by moving forward with your life. While it will be difficult, subjecting your children to constant bickering, arguing, screaming matches, and high-conflict exchanges will also harm their mental health. Ultimately, some children will resist the change, afraid that the new normal will be worse than the old one. However, divorce likely improves the mental health of children in high-conflict households and parents need to remember to contextualize the studies that focus on children of divorce. They are not focusing on children of high-conflict marriages. They are only analyzing children who come from divorced households. 

In other words, if spouses in a high-conflict marriage agree to stay together for the sake of the children, we do not have statistics on how much better or worse they do. Chances are good that the environment is calmer and safer after the divorce than it was during or before. In other words, you did protect your children’s mental health by pursuing the divorce.

Talk to a Cook County Divorce Lawyer Today

Andrea Heckman represents the interests of Chicago residents seeking a divorce. Call now to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your post-divorce goals immediately. 

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Andrea Heckman

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