In our last post, we began a discussion about a problem that nearly every parent faces when contemplating divorce. On one hand, there are numerous studies suggesting that parental divorce can have very negative long-term impacts on children. On the other hand, living in a high-conflict home can be equally (if not more damaging) for kids. Moreover, studies about the harmful effects of divorce often fail to account for the role that long-term exposure to parental conflict plays, regardless of whether parents stay together or split.
If you are facing such a situation, many psychology and relationship professionals would say that long-term exposure to high levels of conflict are likely worse than a divorce followed by effective co-parenting.
Divorcing well for the sake of the children
You likely cannot protect your kids from the short-term sadness and emotional difficulties that come with the news of divorce. However, there are steps you and your spouse can take to make the transition easier and to prevent long-term damage to their mental health and emotional wellbeing. These include:
- Breaking the news of the divorce together, in age-appropriate terms, and reassuring children that they are in no way at fault
- Agreeing to co-parent peacefully with your ex-spouse, and together, modeling what successful conflict resolution looks like
- Continuing to be (or choosing to be) a united front when it comes to parenting decisions and showing your children you are equally invested in their happiness
- Continuing to jointly be there for your children after the divorce, including attending school functions, sports games and other activities your kids are involved in. Make these occasions about your children and not about your disagreements with your co-parent.
Divorce can be a new beginning
Divorce likely won’t be a clean break from your spouse in the way that you might hope, because you’ll remain tied to this person through your children. However, it can be a symbolic way to break old conflict patterns and choose to transition from an unhealthy marriage to a healthy co-parenting relationship. That transformation can begin by selecting an attorney who will guide you through the divorce process efficiently and professionally.