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We received a question about children and divorce: “I would very much like to read about how to deal with small children during a separation”. What is important to think about? Are there studies on what affects children’s development? Can you see a connection between divorce and mental illness? Etc. etc. Anything about the subject would be of great help to me.
Dear beloved parents,
Firstly, a big hug. Your short question reveals the love you have for your children and shows that you have their best interests at heart. It also indicates doubt and hesitation and lots of anxiety. In my experiences, this is consistent with other parents. Parents do not differ from each other much.
Divorce affects children
To say that a divorce does not affect children would be to deeply disappoint them. A family is a child’s closest universe and what happens within the family is crucial to the children’s wellbeing.
But bad marriages also affect children
It is well established that parents’ feelings affects children’s feelings. Children need to have their own emotions, and parents need to be able to recognize and respond to the children’s emotions wisely. That way, this helps the child handle their emotions better. In these cases, the other fit and fresh parent plays a very important role in the child’s health.
A child who is exposed to domestic violence, as a spectator or beaten / shaken / mocked / pushed absorbs great damage from this.
That said, every divorce is unique. And the balance of what is good and bad for the child during a divorce is unique as well. A divorce that allows the child to escape a violent environment can be life-saving. This could be a basic start for the child to be able to rebuild their health.
A divorce that frees the child from alcohol abuse, constant divisive parental conflicts is also beneficial for the child’s health, even if the separation itself is traumatic.
A child having two happy, energetic, prosperous parents, instead of two sour, energy-less and constantly petty parents, has a positive impact on their health. From the child’s perspective, the negative effects of not having access to both parents at the same time can outweigh having two petty parents, from the child’s perspective . But it is different for different children, and we do not know without asking them.
Do children of divorced parents feel worse?
You can find a lot of research online. There are studies about children of single mothers performing worse and feeling worse in different ways. Even Swedish ones. But does that mean it is the divorce that is causing this? Or is it living with separated parents, that has hurt the child?
There are not at all valid. Even if there is a connection between children living with single parents do worse in school, for example, it does not have to mean that there is a causal correlation. The correlation can be due to something else that affects both the probability of the parents divorcing and the risk of bad school results.
“Parents who are divorced” and “parents who live together” differ in many ways. The first is obvious. The parents who have divorced have had a reasonably less well-functioning relationship and a less well-functioning cooperation than those who have not divorced. The groups differ in educational level, in economics and in the incidence of mental illness, smoking, age and much more.
So there are just about any number of disruptive factors that make children of single mothers, in very many studies, perform and feel worse than children of parents who live together. What the studies can never show is how the children of the separated parents would have felt if the parents had not separated.
Is it harder to be a parent alone?
It’s tougher to be alone than cooperating with another parent. But there are many who have separated and testified to how much easier it is to be alone than to be opposed by the other parent. Incomparable parents is an association for single parents that I have heard a lot about. Feel free to join. There is a great chance that it will make your single parenting easier and more fun!
Prosperous parents are a great asset for children
I am of the belief that prosperous parents have much greater opportunities to be good parents to their children. If you no longer see any opportunities to feel good in a relationship with the child’s other parent, I believe that the child’s opportunities to feel good increase if you get out of the dead-end marriage. In my job, I see lots of children with parents who are separated and cooperate excellently. The child and the whole family seem very well to me.
Cooperate on the child!
Successful parenting is simply just working jointly to raise the child. And never, never, never speak ill of the other parent in front of the child. Parents should see that the child has interests in all possible situations and choices, and balances the child’s interests against their own and the partner’s. Feel free to get help from family counselors to get help working together on the children. It can be just as difficult after years in a malfunctioning relationship.
If your partner abuses you or the children: call the women’s shelter , National Women’s Protection Line or the Social Services for advice immediately. That’s when you need help breaking free. If you both hit the children and each other: call the social services, then you and your children need a lot of help immediately.