Children deal with a lot of change as they grow. Many of us understand just how tender early childhood can be and the need for a safe and nurturing home in which to raise our kids. But the world is an imperfect place. Just as you may have faced your own adversity growing up, so will your children likely come into environmental stresses that can have effects on their future.

Recently, Newsweek published a story that covered a doctor’s findings on stress and its relation to sickness—both immediate health ailments and those that may occur down the road. The study placed a particular focus on family stresses experienced by children. Such stresses included a parent’s incarceration, drug addiction and some witnessed physical violence in their home.

These childhood experiences have, according to the article, severe impacts on molecular-level processes and ultimately hurt the immune system through the genes. This suggests that the experiences may even harm future generations. And, perhaps what is most alarming, it may make the children more susceptible to ailments like dementia, cancer, heart disease later in life.

How to combat your child’s adversity

Some adversity cannot be prevented. For example, divorce may be a necessary change in their life that, even when they are old enough to understand, they may still struggle to reconcile. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that resilience can be learned and that parents can help by ensuring the lifestyle of their child is headed in a healthy direction. The APA suggests such tips as maintaining a daily routine and helping them make connections with others that may create fruitful social skills.

There is nothing more important than the health of your child. How you approach their major life changes can make a big difference in their future.