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Study Says Divorce Can Fuel Fear of Abandonment in Children

New research indicates children who see their parents go through a difficult divorce involving lots of arguing and contention are more likely to develop a fear of abandonment in the aftermath of that divorce. This is true even if children feel close to one or both parents.

Researchers interviewed 560 children between nine and 18 years old. They asked children about the frequency and intensity with which their parents fought, whether they ever felt like they were caught in the middle of those arguments, and if their parents had ever said bad things about each other in their presence.

They found that children who were exposed to more conflict were more likely to have a fear of abandonment. In addition, children who reported higher fears of abandonment were also more likely to report additional mental health problems within the year that followed, including general anxiety or fear, or bottled-up distress.

Protecting your children during divorce

Sometimes conflict in divorce cannot be avoided. What can be avoided, however, is exposing your children to that conflict. Both parents in a divorce must make it a point to set “rules of engagement” for these conflicts, which should include never having arguments in front of children, or badmouthing each other in front of the kids.

This sort of behavior can be damaging to children’s psyche, and also lead to them feeling responsible for the state of their parents’ relationship. Both parents need to show a united front in supporting and reassuring their children, and must act maturely and cordially with each other in the presence of the kids. Otherwise, children are much more likely to suffer mental health issues moving forward.

For more information about how to protect children from some of the nastier ramifications of divorce, contact an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.

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