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Problem children affect parent's mental health: study

world Updated: Aug 15, 2010 15:33 IST

PTI
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Problem children can be called a psychological burden as they continue to negatively affect their parents' mental health even after reaching adulthood, a new study has claimed.

Researchers at the Purdue University found that mothers and fathers are tormented by their adult children who face specific lifestyle or behavioural problems, including trouble with the law, drinking or drug problems, troubled relationship or divorce.

Having just one such child can affect the mental health of middle-age parents and it doesn't get subsided even if they have other children who were successful, they found.

This finding suggests that parents feel a greater impact from their children's failures than from their successes, lead author Karen Fingerman said.

"Having two children suffering problems may be more demanding than having only one child who suffers problems. By the same token, having a successful child did not buffer the effects of problem-ridden children," Fingerman was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

For their study, the researchers surveyed 633 parents in the Philadelphia area who in total had 1,251 children. Parents rated the success of their grown children compared with other adults of the same age in terms of their education, career and relationship achievements.

Parents also answered questions about their own psychological well-being, what kind of relationship they had with their children, and whether their children had faced specific physical, emotional, lifestyle and behavioural problems like drinking, taking drugs and criminal activities.

It was found that the majority of parents, 68 per cent, had at least one child who had suffered lifestyle, emotional, behavioural, or physical problems within the previous two years.