• Your Daughter Suffers the Most From Your Separation, Says Study

    Family break ups have long-term physical and mental ill effects on children like depression and health decline

  • Photo by Angelina Koh/Flickr Creative Commons

    Going through a separation can be tough. Recent study shows that it can be tougher on the kids, especially for young girls. 

    Research from the University of Illinois, published in the Review of Economics of the Household, found that family breakups, such as separation or divorce, had lasting negative physical and mental impact on a child.  Girls are specifically prone to depression, having smoking issues and an overall poor health. 

    “Girls' health is more sensitive to family structure,” Andrea Beller, co-author of the study and an economist at the University of Illinois, said in a release. “Prior research shows that family breakups affect boys more than girls through cognitive, educational and emotional channels. We find that, if you grow up in a non-traditional family structure — single parent or step-parent or a cohabiting relationship, girls are more likely than boys to be depressed and report worse overall health.”

    The study involved reviewing data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Beller, along with co-author Alex Slade, analyzed data from 7,607 individuals aged 15 to 18 and 4,757 individuals aged 27 to 32. 

    “The sample was selected using criteria such as single-mother homes in which the mother reported both her marital history and the presence or absence of the child's biological father. It excluded individuals whose fathers had died,” said the release. 

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    Results of the study showed that not only did separation have ill effects on children, the age in which the daughter goes through her parents separation matters too. 

    “Between ages 6 and 10 is an important life period when girls are particularly vulnerable,” said Beller. “Early father absence is adversely associated with smoking behavior, overall health, and depression well into adulthood. And the pattern of findings for depression over the time periods suggests that family structure has a more complex role in girls' mental than physical health.”

    Try putting yourself in a child’s shoes to see what it feels like. Clinical psychologist Zachele Marie Briones explained it this way in an article on Smart Parenting. “The separation translates to the sudden absence of a parent in the home. The sense of family has been shattered. When the kid is used to doing routine stuff with the absentee parent prior to the breakup, it affects him in a big way.”

    She continued by sharing advice on how single parents can help their children cope with the family breakup using the 3As. 

    “First, assure your child that, despite the separation, both parents still love him. Next, adjust to the routine that your child is familiar with, to cushion the sense of loss. Last, agree with your ex-partner on the best shared parenting technique.” She added, “A strong support system is also very essential. If the single parent feels she could not do these on her own, she could also seek professional help.”


    Sources:
    Dec. 14, 2015. "Study reports childhood family breakups harder on girls' health". eurekalert.org
    Dec. 15, 2015. "The person that suffers most when families break up". deseretnews.com 

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