Parental Conflict or Separation? No Difference for Teen Well-Being

Researchers have known for some time that teenagers are better off both academically and behaviourally if they live with both parents. However, new research out of the University of Minnesota and Cornell University indicates that if there is significant parental conflict, the relationship between parents staying together and positive outcomes no longer holds. More specifically they found that the outcomes for teens whose parents argue frequently is similar to what happens growing up in a single parent family - poorer academic achievement, increased substance use and early family formation and dissolution. Dr. Kelly Musick and her colleague Dr. Ann Meier looked at how teenagers in 1,963 households fared from their teens to early 30s. According to Musick, "Our results clearly illustrate that the advantages of living with two continuously married parents are not shared equally by all children. Compared with children in low-conflict families, children from high-conflict families are more likely to drop out of school, have poor grades, smoke, binge drink, use marijuana, have early sex, be young and unmarried when they have a child and then experience the breakup of that relationship."

The implication of the research suggests that people in high conflict marriages should not feel comforted by the idea of "staying together because of the kids". On the other hand, the research suggests that getting help in the form of couples' therapy is required to reduce conflict as simply staying together is not helpful to teens.

Do you wish your parents had stayed together or were you happy that they separated? Did having a high conflict home environment negatively affect you? Are you concerned about the how the high conflict atmosphere in your home is affecting your teen? Let us know what you think. Write us a comment!

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