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Divorce kids in rude mental health: study

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 29 Apr 2010, 09:29

Published: 29 Apr 2010 09:29 GMT+02:00

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The doctoral thesis, entitled "Grown-up children of divorce: Experiences and health" by Teresia Ängarne-Lindberg at Linköping University, examines the mental health in a group of young adults (aged 22-33-years-old) whose parents had divorced 15-20 years previously, during the same year in the 1980s.

"Although the results show evidence of good mental health among children 15-20 years after the divorce, it is important to note that no child wants their parents to divorce. But if parents do not have a positive relationship then, according to many of those interviewed, divorce might be the best solution," said Theresa Ängarne-Lindberg.

Despite that fact that these children have gone through the often traumatic experience of a divorce and experienced more childhood turbulence than their peers, the study finds no significant difference between the general mental health of the two groups when they reach their twenties.

The only group of children of divorced parents that fared worse than the group whose parents were still living together were women aged 22-27.

The study is based on interviews and questionnaires and asked participants to detail their experiences of the divorce, mental health, life experiences outside of the divorce as well as personal resources, defined as sense of coherence (SOC).

The data has been complemented with psychiatric journals and health registers and compared to a control group of adult children of parents who remained together.

"The examination of psychiatric records showed no significant differences between the number of persons in need of adult psychiatric care in the divorce and the non-divorce group," Ängarne-Lindberg writes in her study.

The researcher forwards the theory that the higher incidence of contact between children of divorced parents and psychiatric services in the immediate aftermath of a divorce could be an influential factor on the apparent lack of consequences for their mental health later in life.

Other factors used to explain the situation are the children's relatively strong personal resources (SOC) and their parents' handling of their divorce.

Story continues below…

Theresia Ängarne-Lindberg writes in her study that 20,000 marriages end in Sweden each year. Taking common law marriage relationships into account, some 48,000 children experienced a divorce or separation in 2007.

Divorce in Swedish society is a generally accepted phenomenon and there is no requirement for either party to establish fault or just cause for a legal separation. Couples living together enjoy most of the same rights as formally married couples.

According to the latest UN statistics (for 2006) around 45 percent of Swedish marriages end in divorce, placing Sweden near the head of world rankings, whereas the divorce rate as measured by the number of divorces per 1,000 of the population is only 2.2, modest by international standards.

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Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:38 April 29, 2010 by planethero
she "how did you get so fat, wearing orange doesnt hide it"

he "i ate takeouts cos your food is crap"

she "so cook yourself, its not 1970"

kid, "its true dad, you are fat and the food here is bad."
13:58 April 29, 2010 by Audrian
I wonder if the study has controlled for variation in the personality/mental condition of divorced couples. Some couples are just nasty for lots or reasons, e.g., drug, alcohol, mental disease or bad upbringing. The parents' problems follow their offspring to their grave. Other couples might be nice people who love their children might find out that they are not incompatible. (What the wife wants from the marriage might be different from what the husband wants from the marriage). If the children are unhappy because of their parent's divorce it is temporary. I wonder what was investigated!
14:52 April 29, 2010 by La Figaro
It is a well known fact that children from broken homes are not as well behaved as those from stable homes, perhaps that points to their mental state. Either way, divorce isn't good on children unless it was an abusive home
16:37 April 29, 2010 by Usman
Yeah its true and thats why most of Swedes are characterless.....
19:52 April 29, 2010 by conboy
Read the more detailed DN reportage on the study for me the results were inconclusive at best there is no indication whatsoever that kids to divorcees are any better off than children from sustained relationships - looked like bad research masquerading as quantative social science - for me more feminist cliches being trotted out to massage the bad consciences of emerging upper class swedish career women acting as badly as any chauvinist swedish man in the end no significant difference between their actions. None of them care really about their children it's all me me me!
22:48 April 29, 2010 by Snajdig
Divorce can be a great thing for parents and kids. Just because you split up doesn't mean you have to HATE each other, you can choose to be friendly too. OK, there's the moving of all the stuff from mom's to dad's every weekend, that's a bitch. But you end up spending more quality time with the kids during the time you have them, more so than if they were in your face 24/7/365. And for one week I'm a fabulous, involved mom and the next I'm a fabulous single lady :) You get the best of both worlds! And the kids get more quality attention. I say ditch this nuclear family crap ;)
22:48 April 29, 2010 by FACTSPOLICE
With these figures, then how is it that Sweden says its the best place to raise children! Parents here know nothing about being a parent or raising a child, because they let their kids control them from the tender age of 3, and do whatever the hell they want to do!.... and they call it freedom and independency!!!

With no standards, no spirituality, no morals, or values, disciplines being taught in sweden, no wonder the divorce rate is so high!. hmmmmm and they say swedes are tolerant and do not like conflicts! well, why is the divorce rate so high then!
23:37 April 29, 2010 by Dr. Dillner

Well stated. It is shaky in its conclusions.
00:08 April 30, 2010 by RoyceD
I'd say a better study is actually looking at parental involvement as a predictor of mental health, rather than simply looking at divorce rates. I would argue that a family where the parents divorce but still maintain suitable levels of involvement is a lot different where one parent runs off leaving the other holding the baby. Even if that parent does provide financial support there is no replacing physical presence in someones life.

A study like that would be far more beneficial in my opinion.
03:21 April 30, 2010 by Mr. Puppy
I can't believe people really still think that divorce has such long-lasting negative effects on people... every divorce is different just like every family is different just like every person is different... Snajdig makes a good point in that it doesn't always have to be a traumatic and horrible experience. It's just something that happens in life. I'm sure some kids are better equipped to deal with it emotionally than others but whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger and in the vast majority of cases where divorce happens, it was ultimately for the better of everyone, even if the immediate change was a bit traumatic for the kid.

My parents never divorced but in my group of friends growing up about half had divorced parents and honestly the emotional pain for the children is really only acute around the actual break up. Once all is said and done most are happy with the new situation because divorces tend to happen for a reason.

We all know that it's not just categories like "divorces" or "being left-handed" that cause people's personalities to go haywire... it's each individual's own traits and experiences with others... I know people with married parents who have a very strained relationship with their parents and kids of a divorced couple who have extremely good relationships with both their parents... and I also know people in the exact opposite situations. There's just a lot going on in life and I can't believe that in 2010 there are still so many people out there who automatically think divorce is totally bad and the sign of moral decline... whatever. Morality is in how you treat people on a day-to-day basis. It has nothing to do with arbitrary social contracts based on a time when everyone's lives were dictated in detail before they were even born.
16:19 May 3, 2010 by ramazama
The hard core swedish atheistic , selfish , goss materistic , feminists dont have the commen sense , and probally never will , --- to understand that children are precious and a great responisibilty , not some other trophy accesory , like the car , the house , etc , to satify their selfish ego trip .
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