Parents’ fighting can even affect infants

The CNN “The Chart” blog reported that infants “exposed to their parents’ marital discord may be more likely to experience sleep issues during toddlerhood,” according to a study published in the journal Child Development.

After following 357 families, all of whom had adopted unrelated infants “during the first three months of the child’s life,” researchers found that marital “instability when an infant was nine months old predicted whether the child would have issues falling asleep and staying asleep at 18 months of age.”

The Time “Healthland” blog reported that the researchers assessed marital instability “via questions that asked mostly middle-class, white, educated husbands and wives individually whether they’d considered consulting an attorney and, more generally, ‘has the thought of separating or getting a divorce crossed your mind?’”

The higher a couple “scored on marital instability measures, the greater the likelihood of them reporting their children had sleep problems – falling asleep, staying asleep, or frequent night wakings.”

Notably, the association between “marital discord and poor infant sleep remained constant even when factoring in birth order, parental anxiety, and infant fussiness.”

HealthDay noted, “All of the children were adopted at birth, which let researchers focus on how family relationships – without the influence of genetics – might affect the infants’ sleep patterns.”

“How couples/parents relate to each other – specifically, how they manage conflicts in their everyday lives – is also recognized as having significant implications for children’s long term emotional, behavioral and academic development,” he added.

So, if you’re in a marriage with both fighting and young kids, don’t put off getting help. Your pastor, a faith-based counselor, or a marriage and family therapist will not only be able to help you and your spouse, but also your marriage — while ensuring a more highly healthy environment for your child.