Research shows that children’s mental health can suffer when their parents divorce. That does not mean that you should cancel your divorce. It means you need to take great care in how you act during and after the divorce.
The singular most important thing you can do is reduce the conflict between you and the other parent. Or at least minimize your child’s exposure to that conflict.
Why does inter-parental conflict do so much harm to children?
A recent study from Arizona State University found that conflict increases children’s fear of abandonment. They take the fighting to mean that one or both parents will leave. It is understandable how believing that would harm their mental health.
Conflict often exists in the marriage long before a divorce. Yet, the study showed divorce was the trigger that prompted abandonment fears. Kids thought that if their parents could abandon each other, they could also leave them.
Reducing conflict is key to protecting your children’s mental health
Avoid situations where your child may feel caught in the middle and feel the tension between you and your co-parent. Do not use your child as a messenger or talk badly about your co-parent in front of them. Do not have divorce discussions with your spouse in front of your child if there is any chance things could get heated. You do not need to get on with your ex, but you do need to remain civil.
Finding out more about your child custody options can help you create a parenting schedule that reduces friction points and assures your child that you will both continue to be there for them.