Parents relationship after divorce: Its effect on children

 By Mayra Bamaca

The process of divorce has an impact on every member of one’s family. However, children may end up being hurt the most if parents are not able to establish a good relationship after divorce. Even though about 40 to 50 percent of children will experience parental divorce before they reach 18 years of age, this transition can be a better one when both parents understand the impact their relationship has on their children’s well-being.

As parents start renegotiating their roles as parents after the separation they need to keep in mind that children will benefit if they are able to come to a mutual understanding. Children will experience stress because divorce causes a transformation of the family they have always known. When changes occur children feel threatened and may start reacting in many different ways. The loss of attachment to one of the parents, fear of abandonment, and the hostility they may sense between parents are all sources of stress for children.

It is for this reason that parents need to come to a consensus about their relationship. Unfortunately, many parents unconsciously ask their children to take sides which only creates confusion for the children. Parents need to learn to be polite to each other in front of their children so that the children can feel secure and don’t see their presence as a cause for confrontation between parents. It is important for the children to feel loved by both their parents.

 “There are three lives here and we all have to live as best we possibly can and that involves a certain amount of co-operative effort in knowing who’s doing what when. If not, the one who’ll miss out is the one with the least power…”

Children’s adjustment after divorce depends on many factors such as age, gender, and how parents try to make this transition smoother for them. It is important not to ignore children’s awareness that something is going on. Children deserve to know that parents are getting separated, but that this has nothing to do with how much they love them.

Parents need to maintain a good relationship  because they are both responsible for their children’s well-being.  Parents need each other in order to provide children with love as well as the best support and discipline.

When children see that parents are informed of their daily events regardless of one of the parents not leaving with them, it reassures them that they are important to the non-custodian parent and that the parents are in communication because they care about them. Just keep in mind that your children need you as a parent no matter what and that it is your responsibility to help them through the process of divorce in the best way possible.

Source:  CFSC Parenting Bulletin

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I think this article is very important and present. It seems as though some parents get so caught up in the seperation/divorce that they do not realize what’s happening to the children. I had a very close friend whose parents got a divorce and like mentioned in this article, her mother made her father look the worst man alive for leaving her. This intern caused my friend to take a side, her mothers. The father remarried and had 2 daughters with his new wife making my friend feel obsolete and undesired. This is a story that seems to be repeated quite often. I just read an article on http://www.firstwivesworld.com speaking on this topic that was very intersting and informative. Check it out
    Just my two cents
    Ann Marie Miller

  2. Posted February 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ann Marie,

    Thanks for reading and commenting on this post. It’s so surprising how some parents put their own selfish desires and needs above those of their children. It’s clear to me it’s always best to take the high road.

  3. Posted April 7, 2008 at 1:04 am | Permalink

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  4. Erin Mitchell
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Mine is more of a question than a comment; My ex husband and I get along very well. We have a great friendship, just didn’t have a great marriage. We separated 3 years ago when our daughter was almost 4, and have always been conscience of the affect our divorce would have on her. We still attend an occasional family function together (nephew’s b-day parties, etc.) and he comes over for dinner once in a while. He’s remained in her life on a consistent basis (although I would prefer he spend a little more time than every other weekend). My point is, there’s no fighting or arguing and we’re genuinely happy spending the time we do together. My concern is that this may cause confusion for my daughter. She frequently makes comments about us getting back together, and loves to hold us both tight (at the same time) and like to take “family” pics. My question is, can divorced parents having a great friendship be detrimental to the children’s emotional well being??

    Any advice you have would be GREATLY appreciated!


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