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Children, divorce and mental health

There are a variety of strong feelings a child can have when their parents get divorced. Anger, despondency, anxiety and stress are some of the more common such feelings.

While it is natural for children to have these feelings in the wake of an event as change-filled for a family as divorce, it is also important that these feelings be managed properly. When a child is unable to manage these feelings, it can lead to mental health challenges.

Recently, some research was conducted on mental health challenges for kids and divorce. The research did find that the splitting of a family can up the likelihood of kids facing mental health difficulties. The study also, however, found that, in many cases, these mental health challenges fade four to nine months down the line.

Of course, this does not mean long-term mental health consequences for the kids are out of the question following a divorce. It is also important to note that short-term mental health challenges can also be very impactful on kids. Thus, it is vital for parents, when divorcing, to do what they can to help their kids manage their divorce-related feelings. Things that may be able to help with this and help ensure kids are getting the mental-health-related support they need during a divorce include: establishing regular routines for the kids, keeping lines of communication open with the kids, getting professional help for the kids when appropriate and working with one's ex (if circumstances permit) to help meet the kids’ mental health needs.

Of course, not every child will have the same mental health and support needs in a divorce, as every child is unique. Thus, when trying to help their kids with managing their feelings during and after a divorce, it is important for a parent to take their child's individual circumstances and characteristics into account.

A child's individual characteristics/circumstances and unique needs (such as mental health needs) are also very important to take into account in child custody matters. This is because these sorts of things can impact what type of child custody arrangement would be best for a child and what ways of resolving a child custody matter might help minimize the negative impacts of the divorce on a child.  

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Minding the Kids in Divorce: Minimizing the Mental Health Impact," Michael O. Schroeder, Jan. 19, 2016

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