The relationship between parental conflict and divorce and psychiatric disorders in children: risk and protective factors
Keywords:Divorce, conflict, child, adolescent, parental acceptance-rejection, psychopathology
Aim: Divorce is a state of separation in which the spouses no longer live together. It is a dynamic process in which the functions of the family change. In this study, the effects of divorce and conflict on child well-being were investigated. The aim was to examine the relationship between parental acceptance-rejection and divorce, risk and protective factors, and childhood psychiatric disorders.
Material –Methods: The subjects of the study were 86 cases aged 8-18 years without cognitive developmental delay and autism spectrum disorder who attended the child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient clinics of a university hospital. Participants were administered the Parental Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire, the Mother-Father Form, the Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia in School-Age Children - Current Version, and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Results: Perception of the father rejection were more common in children from high-conflict divorced families. Depression and generalized anxiety disorder were found to be the most common psychiatric disorders among children who were rejected by their fathers. Although the children in the high-conflict group did not perceive rejection by their mothers, they described their mothers as cold and distant. It was observed that adjusting to the divorce was worse in the pediatric age group. Depression, panic disorder, and social phobia were found more frequently in cases who were in adolescence at the time of divorce. While depression was the most common psychiatric disorder in the first two years after the divorce, generalized anxiety disorder and oppositional defiant disorder were more common in cases after three years or more.
Conclusion: After parental conflict, the risk factors that had the greatest impact on child well-being were the absence of the noncustodial parent from the child's life, the amount of time that had passed since the divorce, and the age of the child at the time of the divorce. The protective factors affecting the child's well-being were determined as the quality of communication between parents, access to treatment opportunities, and good social support.
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