Divorce is very stressful on all involved. Kids suffer in many ways when their parents divorce, even though there may be some things about their lives that improve from having parents separate who are not getting along. Unfortunately, a new study shows some additional negative outcomes for children going through these trying times. A study from the University of Toronto found a strong correlation between people whose parents divorced when they were children, and smoking.
Children who are going through this experience need extra love and support. Parents going through divorce need to keep an even more watchful eye on their kids' behaviors and coping mechanisms, and help them find healthy ways to cope. Parents may want to consider finding extra sources of outside support for their kids, such as through a local mentoring program, or through relatives who can spend quality time with the children, being a listening, supportive, caring presence.
There are many factors that increase the likelihood of someone smoking, including other traumatic life events during childhood. However, the study claims that even when other factors were taken into account, such as parental addiction or child abuse, a strong relationship due to divorce still remained.
Divorce is already hard enough on the whole family, especially the kids. Who knew that it could also increase the likelihood of the children growing up to be smokers. That's the last thing parents going through this challenge want as an outcome for their children. For parents going through divorce, as if they didn't already feel enough guilt about how this is affecting their children, now they have a new thing to add to their list of fears, worries, and guilt trips.
Perhaps talking as openly and honestly as possible (and age-appropriately, of course), about the stresses of divorce, and the temptations they will face to find the quick-fix ways to cope, is one place to start. Being a good example by not smoking and by living a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally, is another good strategy. Talking with children directly about ways to think positively and to cope with stress, is always helpful. Reassuring them that they are loved and cared about, that they have people who are eager to help and support, and that they have the strength to overcome any obstacles, is another important message.
The study was published in the Journal of Public Health.
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