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Psychosocial issues affecting children from broken homes

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Psychosocial issues affecting children from broken homes


By Beauty Tavashure

Children from broken homes within our communities are facing numerous challenges. A broken home is a family where one parent is absent and this is usually because the parent has divorced or deserted. There has been a rise in broken homes within Zimbabwe as divorce rates continue to soar and economic and social challenges as well as migration continue to pull families apart. It is the children that are left in the care of a single parent that bear the burden of psychological conflict. There stories continue to go untold and their plight is ignored by our communities.
This article will discuss psychosocial issues that affect children from broken homes and these include, children’s Mental Health, emotional distress, some may experience low self-esteem, behavioural problems and social problems. In as much as these children experience these challenges they need support from parents and the community at large to understand them since it is said it takes a community to raise a child.

Mental Health challenges
Children from broken homes commonly suffer from what are known as adjustment disorders. These are a consequence of the struggle to adapt to changes in their family life. It is common for children to develop mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders which hinder their daily function. In addition, children may also develop mental health challenges such as trauma from exposure to constant conflict, aggression, abuse, neglect, domestic violence and separation which are quite common in a separating family.

Emotional distress
The experience of strong emotional distress can also be present in children from broken homes. Growing up in such circumstances can lead to emotional scarring with children sometimes experiencing guilt and self-blame in response to parent separation. The loss of a patient can also trigger emotions of grief, sadness and even confusion. Feelings of uncertainty evoke strong feelings of anxiety, fear and sometimes even anger.

Low self-esteem
The absence of a stable family environment can lead to lower self-esteem and confidence in children. The feelings of coming from an inferior damaged family can lead to feeling low self-worth. This can lead to self-induced stigma and isolation. This affects many areas of life including the ability to form healthy relationships with peers and adults. It also affects the capacity to initiate productive behaviours leading to children becoming more withdrawn and less socially competent. These, unless managed, can transfer into adult life leading to even more reduced capacity to enjoy life.
Behavioural Problems
Children broken homes are prone to exhibiting negative behaviours such as physical and verbal violence. The absence of positive role models and feelings anger, frustration and even confusion to lead to children lashing out. Guardians who are uninformed about these issues may feel the children lack discipling and may introduce corporal punishment which further promotes abuse and the emotional distress experienced by the children.
Social Challenges
Children from broken homes face challenges completing their education due to financial challenges often faced by single parenting within the prevailing Zimbabwean economy. They also face challenges associated with stigma and depression from other children as well as from adults. The consequent low self-esteem makes them an easy target for bullying as well as sexual harassment and abuse.

Supporting Children from Broken Homes.
There remains a lot that can be done to support children from broken homes. Families who are undergoing separation can seek counselling services as either part of repairing their marital issues or as a way of managing life post-divorce.

Counselling services.
Counsellors are equipped with knowledge and skills of how to promote child welfare after divorce and help ensure that child development is best optimised in the face of adversity. There are also counselling services available for children to help them build resilience and cope with issues surrounding divorce and separation as well as resolve any behavioural, emotional or mental health challenges that they may be facing.

Parental role in children
Parents can also play an effective role in supporting their children. They can achieve this through reminding them that the divorce or separation was not their fault and providing a listening ear to their children’s concerns. Parents can also provide positive but firm parenting to help eliminate the possibilities of problem behaviours that may arise in the adjustment phase.

Community role in children
The community also has a role to play in supporting children from broken homes. Financial support to single parents can go a long way in achieving family normalcy. Curbing practices such as the harassment and abuse of children from broken homes can also help protect them self-esteem and mental health.

This article was written by Beauty
Tavashure an Intern Counselling
0772 701572
[email protected]

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