Study: Kids Have Sleep Troubles When Parents Fight About Divorce

Posted on Aug 07, 2011
If you and your spouse are having serious fights, you may be affecting how well your kids sleep at night – or so says a new study that examined the connection between marital stress and family stress.

In the study, which followed 357 adoptive parents over a nine-month period, found that parents who said that they had arguments that included serious thoughts of divorce also reported that their children had difficulties sleeping. More specifically, parents who reported fighting when their child was nine months old were significantly more likely to report that their child didn’t sleep well at 18 months old. Adopted children were used in the study in order to eliminate genetic factors and focus on environmental factors.

What do the results of the study mean? Researchers say that stress between parents may have more of an affect on young children than we previously thought and that staying together for the kids might actually be causing more stress within the family unit than parents realize. In addition, researchers added that spousal arguments and poor child sleep patterns can have a downward spiral effect, with more fights leading to more child sleep issues leading to more fights.

This study on child sleep problems, fighting parents, and divorce was published in academic journal Child Development.

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