Troubles tend to multiply for kids in broken families
BY CAROLYN MOYNIHAN
Growing up in a family with a history of substance abuse, mental illness, or incarceration places kids at higher risk of childhood depression, anxiety, and conduct disorders, according to Nicholas Zill at the Institute of Family Studies.
That might sound self-evident, but Zill also shows how these factors work together with family structure to put some children at a greater disadvantage than others. As the following graph illustrates, US data show that children cared for by a divorced or separated mother are far more likely to also experience alcohol or drug abuse, or mental illness in the family, or the imprisonment of a family member.
It is noteworthy that young people in stepfamilies had family histories similar to those for kids living with divorced or separated mothers.
Also worth noting is the fact that these comparisons have been adjusted for differences across family types in the average age, sex, and race/ethnicity of the child; family income and poverty status; and the parent’s educational attainment.
And yes, there’s the causality issue ....