From the data on the marriage of the parents of our respondents, we took into consideration the problem of divorce of the parental marriage and its impact on the mental life of the child. Children of divorced parents of both sexes more often suffer from mental disorders than children whose parents remained married together.
The Role of Marital Conflicts in Child Psychopathology
Divorce is just the final event in a long series of marital disagreements. What damages the child’s psyche in such a situation are precisely these quarrels between the parents, and not their separation. There are, of course, many failed marriages with those parents who stay together.
Divorces are usually only those marriages in which the intensity of the conflict has exceeded a certain limit of tolerance. That is why they especially damaged the children born in them. This is probably the reason why children from divorced marriages exhibit more mental disorders than children of parents who have stayed together, although they often disagree.
The Impact of Step-Parenting on Children’s Mental Health
When the parents of our respondents divorced, so the parent with whom the child established a new marriage, the children again suffer more from mental disorders than those who live with both parents. The high frequency of mental disorders in children who found themselves with their stepfather or stepmother after the divorce of the parental marriage could be interpreted in several ways:
The new marriage of one parent is no better than the previous one, so the child is still affected by marital disputes as a negative educational factor and supports his mental disorders;
- The previous marriage of the parents has damaged the young person so much that the new marriage finds it difficult to correct his development, even when it is relatively settled;
- Parents who treated each other in such a negative way that they had to divorce are often so sick that they do not know how to be good educators of their children in any situation;
- The child finds it difficult to adjust to the replacement for one parent, ie stepfather or stepmother;
- The stepfather or stepmother does not accept the role of substitute for the parent and does not establish a positive emotional relationship with the child.
Among our respondents in the city of stepfathers, there are 1% boys and the same number of girls. Psychological disorders occur more often in these children than in children without a stepfather. The difference in the incidence of mental disorders in children with stepfather and without stepfather is statistically significant.
Factors Contributing to the Mental Health of Children in Step-Families
This finding warns us that the average stepfather is probably not a good educator of his stepchildren. It is clear that this information can be an expression of other factors that affect the child along with the fact that he has a stepfather.
The mother’s personality, her previous and current treatment of the child, the quality of the marriage between the parents, the relationship between the mother and the stepfather, the relationship between the brothers in the family, etc. should also be taken into account.
It seems that even the average stepmother does not completely replace the average mother, and that on average she is a worse educator than the mother. Our respondents who have a stepmother also suffer more often from mental disorders than children who do not have one.