How Divorce Can Make Your Child Gain Weight and What to Do About It
Forty years ago, only about 11% of children lived in a single parent home. Today more than 50% of children will live for some part of their childhood with a single parent. Often their parent will get remarried and they will then live with a step father or mother. Some single parents never remarry and others live together unmarried. The most common type of single-parent family is one that consists of a mother and her biological children. In 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their single mother. When single families are mother headed the economic burden is greater. The balance of work and family duties become distorted. Many single mothers pay large fees for daycare services.
Children who lived with single mothers were significantly more likely to develop obesity. Parental marital conflict and divorce may increase the risk for adverse health consequences both in childhood and adulthood.
Here is how separation, family discord and divorce influences child and teen’s eating:
Threatens children’s sense of emotional security including depression, anxiety, anger,loneliness.
Dysfunctional family climate including lack of regular meals, more eating in front of the TV
Income decline after a divorce leading to more fast food restaurants and purchasing less healthy, high cost foods at home
Children are left alone, without adult supervision or placed in day care because mother’s are required to work longer hours
Even more important is when one parent goes about sabotaging the efforts of the other
How Can Both Parents Help Their Children Survive Divorce?
Both parents need to talk (often sounds impossible) and decide what is best for their children. They need to provide a united front and start thinking about their kids first. Maintain as much normalcy as possible by keeping regular routines, including mealtimes, family rules about behavior, and discipline apply equally whether the child is with the father or the mother. Often the father who is living out of the family home starts lavishing presents, breaking rules and not enforcing limits, often because of guilt.
Kids should not witness parental conflict. Kids whose parents maintain anger and hostility are much more likely to have continued emotional and behavioral difficulties that last beyond childhood.Consistency in routine and discipline across the households is important. Similar expectations regarding bedtimes, rules, and homework will reduce anxiety. Wherever possible work with the other parent to maintain consistent rules – and even when you can’t enforce them in your ex-partner’s home, you can stick to them in yours.
What can they do with an ex-husband, who often acts simply out of spite or anger? Not an easy situation. Maybe the child’s doctor or pastor can speak or write a note to the father. May be the father can bring the child to the pediatrician’s office for a talk. Often the children can help, even young ones can tell the father that they simply cannot go to these restaurants. You would think that the father would think of his child first, but that’s not all the way things work out.