Parent’s Break-Ups Can Harm Mental Health in Children

Children are more likely to face mental problems after parents separate…

Parental separation is more likely to harm the mental health of children and a study has shown a rise of emotional problems by 16%.

The research, involving 6,245 children and young people in the UK, is the first British study to explore the links between couple separation or divorce and the impact on the mental wellbeing of children.

Children aged 14 at the time of the split have been shown to have an eight percent increase in conduct disorders and are more likely to show emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.

Prof Emla Fitzsimons, of the Institute of Education at University College London and co-author of the study, said: “Family splits occurring in late, but not early, childhood are detrimental to adolescent mental health. One possible reason for this is that children are more sensitive to relationship dynamics at this age.”

Fitzsimons and her colleague, Aase Villadse, analysed 6,245 children involved in the Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking the health of young people born at the start of the century.

Dr Nick Waggett, chief executive of the Association of Child Psychotherapists has stated: ” It may be that parents who are occupied with issues of separation as a couple at the point the child moves into adolescence are less able to provide the emotional support that the child needs to negotiate their own process of separation and development towards adulthood.”

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