Sunday, January 29, 2012

Family Conflict Impact on Kids

I have been re-reading the research on how divorce and its preceding conflicts in marriage impact the following generation. Kids are impacted deeply and sometimes permanently by divorce.

Dr. Martin Seligman, a world renowned Psychologist and research professor at the University of Pennsylvania is famous for his research on depression. and its causes. He has concluded that the primary cause of depression is the ways we learn to think about Adversity. If we encounter problems that we are unable to change but are ongoing despite our efforts, we tend to develop a sense of Hopelessness or Pessimism.

After that, whenever we encounter any problem or issue we dislike we start thinking immediately that it is impossible for me to overcome. The result is simple: I will give up rather than bounce back. I will not be resilient but think/feel hopeless.

Children of divorce have a long track record of develop this kind of thinking pattern. They often have habits of the mind and heart that focus on Hopelessness because they believe their situation cannot be changed.

Seligman, who is divorced himself, says: Conflict and divorce is the most important facilitator of a child's depression.

In the Princeton-Penn Longitudinal Study on children impacted by conflict and divorce they discovered several things. On average:

Children of divorce do badly. When they were tested twice annually, they were much more depressed than kids from intact families.

That is the very bad news. However, even worse, the depression does not decrease over time. In fact, these children were sadder, act out more at school, have lower self esteem, evidence more physical illnesses, worry more and evidence less zest for life.

If you are considering divorce, get some good couple counseling from a person trained in marriage and family dynamics. If the person is only trained in individual psychology, you will not get the full relational picture.

Parents can definitely help prevent depression in their children.

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