It's a sad statistic but experts estimate that nearly 40% of marriages will end in a divorce. Thankfully, a recent study has released great advice for parents when talking to their children about this topic. Co-parenting is a non-option; it's a must. Couples must put aside their feelings of anger, betrayal, and general upset for the other and focus on the child or children after the relationship ends.
Just in time for National Child-Centered Divorce Month in July, The Stewardship Report focused a spotlight on a study called "The Linacre Quarterly" in which researchers compiled three decades worth of work together that focuses on the impact of divorce on the mental health of children.
Much of this research says that the effects of a divorce have been shown to lessen a child's future overall - in all areas of all life, including relationships, earning potential, education, emotional well-being, and more. Parenting expert and licensed educational psychologist Reena B. Patel told the Stewardship Report that while divorce may seem like something that is happening strictly just between the couple, in fact, it is happening to the whole family, including and especially the children.
According to the study, children can best heal from the damaging effects of a divorce when they are able to witness a good example of the parents working peacefully together to solve problems for themselves.
Some helpful tips that Patel offers are to keep an open dialogue with your ex at all times. If you can't handle a face-to-face conversation at first, settle for an email, text, voicemail, letter, phone call, etc. Just as long as it's consistent. Patel recommends this should be mutually agreed upon for both households. For example, both parents should be on the same page about homework being completed each school night and so on. This way, the children feel a sense of stability and predictability.
Patel also says that it is important not to give in to the temptation of outdoing each other by being the "favourite parent," such as by gift-giving and lax behavioural guidelines. Despite what children think they need, they actually crave consistency and unification in their lives. This will lead to a greater well-being overall. Don't let them push your limits or give in to the "favourite parent" trap.
It's also important to make sure that the child or children are never the primary sources of information or the "go-to." All communication needs to be between the parents.
And speaking of communication, when speaking to the children about the other parent, all words must be positive. Even if you don't feel positive about the other parent, remember that at one time, you chose this person as the parent of your child and that other person does have valuable traits. Remember those strengths when you speak about your child's other parent in front of them, for your child's sake.
Finally, Patel says to keep the conversations with your ex child-focused in order to keep the peace. If you like what Patel has to say and would like to learn more about what she has to offer, be sure to visit her website.
What do you think about Patel's advice for divorced couples? Let us know in the comments!