The Mental Health and Parenting Practices of Recently Separated Parents Survey
Approximately one half of committed relationships (marriage or de facto) result in separation — that’s a lot of separated adults. Between August 2007 and July 2008, the Family Court in New Zealand granted 10,000 divorces — and that doesn’t account for all of the de facto relationships that ended during that time. The breakup of a committed relationship is a stressful event. In fact, separation and divorce have been ranked as the second-most stressful events in life after the death of a spouse. Overseas research has found that people going through a divorce are more at risk for psychological difficulties (like anxiety and depression and the overuse of alcohol) than people who are married, or people who have never been married. Interestingly, it seems that there may be some differences between men and women with regards to these difficulties. Some research says that men struggle more than women, and other research says that women struggle more than men. One of the reasons that these differences have been found may be that people are usually only asked once about how they’re coping. So, maybe women suffer more at the beginning and men suffer more later on, or vice versa. If they’re only asked once about it, the researchers may never know that things got better (or worse). Unfortunately, we don’t have that information about separated parents in New Zealand.
In 2008, there was an average of nearly two children involved per divorce in New Zealand, which suggests that a large proportion of divorces involve people who have children. So, how much more stressful is separation when there are children involved? Anxiety about the children’s welfare adds a huge burden to the already-difficult process of separating from someone you’ve loved and shared your life with for a considerable period of time. Needing to communicate and co-operate with someone who makes you feel sad or angry or guilty or scared is very difficult. Working out how children are going to continue to get the best out of both parents can be a minefield of frustration and anxiety and even despair. It’s been suggested that parents going through a divorce are twice as likely to think about suicide than parents who are not going through a divorce. Some research says that fathers who don’t have custody of their children are at particular risk for mental health problems.
This sounds like a terrific survey to get involved with and it would be a terrible shame if an opportunity for men’s voices to be heard passed by with just a whisper. At the moment 83% of the participants are female meaning only 17% are male. That’s sad when you consider 50% of participants in separation are female/male.
If this sounds like something you personally can participate in please take the time to fill out your answers, or if this is something your partner can participate in, or your brother, father, friend etc., etc., please pass this on and encourage them to take some time to share.
For details about the researcher click here
To participate in the survey click here