If you constantly argue with your spouse, you may both decide the best option is to divorce. Yet, the process of divorce can lead to even more arguments. Things you previously did not care about, like who gets the lawnmower, can suddenly seem worth fighting about.
Heated discussions are unlikely to benefit either you or your spouse. Yet, there is one set of people they could do even more damage to — your children.
Conflict between parents can lead to children fearing abandonment
A recent study by Arizona State University psychologists studied over 500 children whose parents had divorced. The team worked with each child for 11 months to see what effect the divorce had on them.
The results show that conflict between parents increased the risk the child worried that one of their parents would abandon them. It found that however good the parents otherwise were with their child, the effect of parental conflict outweighed it.
Knowing that your child thinks you or the other parent might abandon them is horrifying enough. Yet the survey also found that children who feared abandonment more were more likely to be suffering from mental health issues 11 months later.
Conflict can take many forms. Your child does not have to see you physically or verbally fighting to know all is not well. Giving the other parent the silent treatment, avoiding them, asking your child to “tell your mother no,” or a host of other actions tell their own truth.
As divorcing parents, you are unlikely to agree on everything. Yet you need to find ways to minimize those conflicts. Doing so will make co-parenting after divorce a lot less challenging and reduce the adverse effects your break-up has on your children.