Parents Psychosocial Well Being Key to Child Health

by Ren Chats
(Denmark)

Financial insecurity disturbs parent’s mental health: Family disharmony mars children's psychosocial development.

Some of teenage behavior disorders seen today could be attributable to the economic crisis their families faced during their infancy and early childhood.

Effects of economic crisis are traditionally focused on its effects on parents’ financial status; its relation to childhood development is seldom discussed.

The study:

"Macroeconomic Environment During Infancy as a Possible Risk Factor for Adolescent Behavioural Problems" by Seethalakshmi Ramanathan et al, was published online on Dec. 31, 2012; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.280

It concludes that children who face economic crisis during their infancy can have grave and long-lasting behavior disorder (substance use and delinquent behaviors).

Data in the study was taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (1997). The teenagers in the study were infants of the families that suffered the recession of 1981-82, especially the high unemployment that prevailed during that period.

How parental depression and stress mars children’s psycho social development?

Financial insecurity jeopardizes parents’ psycho social well being, bruises their morale and blunts their emotions. Family activities and inter-personal relations are restrained. Consequently, marital disharmony sets in. Children often internalize their parent’s psycho social upheaval, and may even hold themselves guilty for their parents stress.

On the other hand, change in the marital status along with financial insecurity and unemployment ruffles parents’ psychological state: Depression and anxiety detracts them towards alcoholism, substance abuse and violent behaviors. Their approach towards child-rearing gets distorted, and children encounter undesirable influences. Distressed parent responds to child's needs with emotional outbursts which may even result into child abuse.

Increases defiance among teenagers

Traumatic experiences lead to childhood depression and anxiety. Children's personality development gets hampered. They perceive law and authorities as hindrance to their happiness and progress; and their environment as "unsafe". Their thoughts are confused and feelings are numbed. Anger and hate seize them. Their defiance towards all form of authority and law gets emphasized. They embark in to wide world for new experiences and indulge in dangerous activities.
Ability to meet competition

During economic crisis parents are unable to maintain children’s school expenses; economic resources are crucial for ensuring academic and social growth of children. Children brought up under economic crisis therefore step out in to the competitive world quite inadequately prepared.

A ship without anchor

Parents psycho social well being is crucial for healthy parent-child bonding. Optimal parent-child bonding gives children emotional stability. Children are then able to relate to people with confidence and build healthy social relationships in all facets of life.

It has been noted that parent’s unemployment during early development phase of their children ruins parent-child bonding. Inadequate bonding and personal ties prevent healthy relationship development.

Moreover, children of parents with disturbed psychological state grow up under fear and feeling of insecurity.Parent’s moodiness and their sparse interaction with children make children excessively impulsive and also aggressive.

Children are sensitive to parents’ psychological distress

High abortion rate, preterm labor, intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and after birth; failure to thrive and delay in all domains of childhood development are noted in babies whose mothers suffer from depression or stress.

The common observation that children of disturbed families tend to fall sick more often has been also scientifically documented in a study by Jutta M. Wolf et al, conducted on 80 children; 33 healthy and 50 had Asthma. The study was Published in Brain Behav Immun. 2008 May; 22(4): 433–441.

The study shows raised parameters of inflammation in children of psychologically distressed parents, even without any symptoms or predisposition to medical illness. This finding supports increased health risk in children of psychologically disturbed parents.

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