What are the mental health risks for kids of divorced parents?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2021 | Divorce |

Divorce remains a prevalent occurrence in the United States, with rates climbing over the past several decades. World Psychiatry notes that fewer than 60% of children in the U.S. live with their biological, married parents, one of the world’s lowest rates for intact families.

Divorce may cause many problems for the children of divorced parents, but there are certain mental health risks they face as their family dynamic changes.

Depression

Children of divorced parents often experience depression both during and after the divorce, and this issue can even strike younger children as they strive to understand the reason behind their parents’ split. There are several signs of depression parents can watch for, including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or sports
  • Mood swings

Older children and teens may try to hide these symptoms from both parents, who may want to consider some form of family counseling to prevent or reduce feelings of depression in their children.

Anxiety

The children of divorced parents may feel anxious and insecure once their routine changes or when one of the parents leaves the family dwelling. Anxiety can present itself in a variety of ways depending on a child’s age and may include regression to earlier childhood behaviors, such as thumb sucking, or emotional outbursts. Nesting, where the family home remains intact and the parents rotate living there, may help reduce anxiety in their children.

Changes in decision-making ability

Prepubescent kids and teens of divorcing parents may begin to take greater risks, as they might begin to feel reckless. As such, they are more likely to experiment with drugs, sex and other unsafe behavior.

Divorcing parents in conflict may want to do all they can to keep their children away from the friction. While this is not always possible, it may reduce the chance of mental health issues.