24 August 2015

Child's illustration of a mother, father and child who are separatingIt is probably one of the most stressful times in the life of a family - the period of separation and divorce challenges parents, children, and the relationships that exist with the wider family. 

And depending on how couples cope and deal with the issues that arise when they separate, children, and especially those in early childhood, can be put at risk of developing emotional and behavioural problems, leading to poor academic achievement and ongoing relationship problems.  

Researchers at the University of South Australia with colleagues at the Universities of Queensland and Western Australia are working to develop an online intervention, aimed at supporting parents during this  transition.  

Co-director of the study and Program Director for UniSA’s Graduate Certificate in Mediation, Dr Helen Stallman says emotions that run high during marriage or relationship break-ups are not easy to calm or control. 

“When their world feels tospy turvy and out of perspective, it is really important for families to have access to evidence-based information and preventative interventions,” Dr Stallman says. 

“The aim of our study is to better understand the issues that parents have to deal with after divorce, and how parents and children cope at different times and in different ways across the period of separation and beyond.

“We also want to learn more about the relationship between family disruptions and personality development during early childhood. 

“Ultimately our goal is to develop a range of helpful interventions for parents, who are likely to experience increased depression, anxiety and stress during a separation, so that they can better manage this challenging time and limit the impact of these feelings on their longer term well-being and those of their children.” 

The research team is encouraging parents to have an input to the study by sharing what aspects they believe would be important for the program. 

Participants will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires about their child and their parenting style. 

Interested parents can learn more about the study and complete the online survey.   

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: +61 8 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au



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