Divorcing couples typically have several stressful issues to work out. Their children could, however, feel neglected or forgotten during the process. While focused on serious and life-altering matters, parents may overlook how the events affect their children’s well-being.
During a routine physical exam, California’s pediatricians may now question a child’s familial circumstances, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. Doctors may, for example, legally probe their young patients about how a parent’s drinking affects them and ask about issues such as housing or divorce.
Screening for adverse effects
Children may begin to develop emotional issues when their families break up and parents live in separate homes. Traveling to a single parent’s new residence can cause confusion or anger in children, who may not fully understand why their parents are divorcing.
By regularly screening children for stress and trauma, health care professionals may help prevent the negative effects of adverse childhood experiences. Also referred to as ACEs, researchers believe that these stressful situations cause unhealthy emotional and physical changes in children as they grow up.
Childhood experiences such as a divorce or parental alcoholism may trigger anxiety and fear, which could result in serious medical conditions later in life. The long-term effects of ACEs may include heart conditions, chronic illness and even premature death.
California’s health officials reportedly claim that nearly 63% of the Golden State’s residents surveyed experienced one or more ACEs during childhood. Approximately 18% of the respondents stated they had experienced at least four ACEs.
Recognizing signs of stress in children
Immediate family members at home may not recognize the signs of stress in children because of the duress and changes taking place in their own lives. Friends, relatives and teachers, however, may begin to notice that a child is grappling with personal problems. With doctors now able to screen for possible issues, parental awareness is a greater likelihood and may present an opportunity to counteract the negative impact on children during a divorce.