Is Your Debt Affecting Your Child's Development?

According to this study, you should avoid a certain type of debt for optimal child development.

woman paying credit card bills
Photo: Shutterstock

Living debt-free isn't easy, especially when you have a family to support. Because everything. Costs. So. Much. Money! Now a new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds a certain type of financial burden parents hold is linked to kids who struggle with social and emotional well-being.

Using data from kids ages 5-14 from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979 Cohort and Children of the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979 Cohort, researchers determined that in families where the parents owe money on their credit cards, the kids are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems. But in families that take on home mortgages and/or student loans, kids exhibited overall greater socioemotional well-being.

So what's the difference, if all debt means you owe money to someone? The study authors theorize debt taken on to advance the family's living situation, or further education, improves their situation, and therefore may lead to better access overall, and a more secure home environment.

Conversely, unsecured credit card debt, which parents may be using for short-term gains, and inevitably carries high interest rates, is an indicator of financial distress. And as every parent knows, nothing is more stressful than being strapped for cash when you have kids to care for.

It's definitely not a leap to suggest a tense home environment can result when parents have credit card debt, adversely affecting interactions between parents and kids, and leading to behavior problems.

The takeaway? To whatever extent you can avoid taking on a lot of credit card debt, do it. Not only are you saving yourself from mountains of stress, you are likely benefiting the entire family.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles