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Eliminating your debts could improve the lives of your children

As parents, many Ohio residents make an effort to shield their kids from stress. This means shouldering the burden when it comes to matters that can lead to worries, such as financial concerns. According to a recent study, high levels of debt could have a serious negative impact on the well-being of children, regardless of the lengths to which parents go to protect their kids from money-related stress. As a result, eliminating your debts could have significant impacts on children's quality of life.

The study looked at information collected on more than 9,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14. The debt levels for each family were calculated and monitored, and information was collected on any behavioral problems that the children experienced. The period of the study extended for 22 years, giving researchers the opportunity to track behavioral changes over time, as the debt scenario for each family shifted.

What was discovered is that children in families with more than $10,000 in unsecured debt experienced behavior problems at a standard deviation of 0.12 over those who lived in homes where debt was not an issue. It is important to note that the researchers divided debt into two categories, secured, such as mortgages, and unsecured, such as credit card bills. In families in which debt increased from around $5,000 to around $10,000, behavior problems in affected children rose a standard deviation of 0.5.

Researchers did not delve into the exact reasons why kids impacted by debt displayed more behavior problems than those who lived in families without high debt levels. It could be that the stress of financial issues caused tension between the parents, making the home less stable for the children involved. It might also be that kids who live in financially stressful households took on some of that stress themselves, and acted out to try to work through those feelings.

The study suggests that families in dire financial straits may have more to worry about than the accumulation of new bills. In cases in which children are beginning to exhibit behavior problems, Ohio parents might want to consider pursuing an aggressive form of debt relief, such as personal bankruptcy. Eliminating your debts could bring a fresh start for the family as a whole and may even increase the well-being of the children living in the home.

Source: fool.com, "Here's How Your Debt Can Harm Your Children's Happiness", Maurie Backman, Feb. 21, 2016

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