Children who live with just one parent after a family break-up are more likely to be ill
A study in Sweden found youngsters living with either mum or dad suffer the most from headaches, stomach aches, feelings of tension and sadness than those whose parents have joint custody.
Researchers’ analysed 150,000 children aged 12 and 15.
It discovered that children living with both parents in a ‘nuclear’ family set-up had the lowest score of all on the Psychosomatic Problems scale.
Experts also looked at children’s concentration levels, difficulties with sleeping, dizziness and loss of appetite.
Sleeping problems were found to be the most frequent, with 22 per cent for those living only with one parent, 19 per cent for living mostly with one parent, 14 per cent for custody, and 13 per cent for children in nuclear families.
The proportion of children who said they “often” or “always” had the different symptoms assessed on the scale was highest among those who lived with just one parent.
Report authors said: “The practice of joint physical custody, that is, children spending equal time in the respective homes of their separated parents, has become more frequent in Western countries over the past decade.”
“At the same time, there has been an increase in self-reported paediatric psychosomatic symptoms. Child health experts have argued that joint physical custody imposes stress.”
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the number of divorces in England and Wales in 2012 was 118,140, affecting just under 100,000 children under the age of 16.
Separation and divorce can be a traumatizing and overwhelming event to experience for young people.
As a parent it is important to remember that you and your partner try and deal with your separation as smoothly as possible, so you are having as little impact on your family as you can manage.
For more information on divorce, separation and how to tell your children visit: www.relate.org.uk