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Child custody study: multiple roles can make parents depressed

As divorcing spouses separate and move on in life, and perhaps remarry, spouses may find themselves being a part of multiple families. Very often parents may have child custody of their own child and then play the role of a parent for a new spouse’s children. Playing multiple roles can be very stressful and, according to a recent report, men can be more at risk for depression.

Brigham Young University scholars say that stepfathers experience a range of emotions and playing multiple family roles can, indeed, be very stressful. The scholars have analyzed data of more than 6,000 parents. The main finding is that after a divorce and an increase in parenting roles, depression increases for both men and women.

In a blended family, men and women typically play “yours, mine, and ours” roles. This triple role is likely to make parents 57 percent more depressed than those who remain single after a divorce. The parent, especially men, is more likely to ask himself if he is supposed to play the role of a parent, a friend or an uncle.

The risk for depression is higher for men who do not have child custody. The man feels a certain guilt and the family dynamics change with the birth of a new child into the blended family. Everybody wants to be a good parent and a stepparent, but is sometimes they are unable to handle the emotions. The key is to remember that the child is the most important person in any child custody issue.

Source: Medical Xpress, “Parenting and depression study: Fathers are at risk, too,” Feb.5, 2015

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