When a marriage breaks down parents have to decide whether it’s better to remain in an unhappy relationship or to separate. Which situation is better for the children?
Studies have shown that staying in an unhappy relationship can cause more harm to children than separating. That said, parents should not minimize the effect that a separation will have on their children.
Most children rely on their homes as a place of security and safety and breaking up that home shakes their world to its core. They will experience fear, uncertainty, anger and disappointment, i.e. all of the same emotions their parents are feeling. Parents have to do everything they can to help and reassure their children at a time when they are struggling emotionally themselves.
It’s not enough to reassure your children that everything will be okay. Children will be watching both of their parents intently to look for clues of how things really are. If parents are in conflict the children will know just by observing their parents’ behavior. Parents therefore have to step up and find a way to resolve their issues with the least possible amount of conflict. If they don’t, their children may be left with lifelong psychological issues to struggle with and this harm will far outweigh any benefit a parent has gained by fighting with the other parent.
Lawyers also have come to realize this and that is why negotiation, mediation and Collaborative Law are now what they encourage and even require clients to participate in before even considering litigation.
Deborah A. Todd