PARENTING AFTER DIVORCE
We tend to think that divorce is always bad for kids and that the traditional family structure–Mom, Dad and the kids–is the best thing for them. But when there is chronic conflict between parents or when they just plain don’t care anymore it makes little sense to stay together for the kids. Most likely, it’ll just confuse them about what marriage is supposed to be and what love is between a man and a woman.
Typically, those who were good parents before the divorce will remain good parents after. Some even improve, devoting more time and attention to their kids after the split than they did before.
The thing that really determines how well kids do after divorce is the continuing relationship between their parents. Research shows that kids do much better when their parents are able to attain a satisfactory post-divorce adjustment, when both parents stay involved in parenting and when the ex-spouses learn how to cooperate in a “co-parental” relationship.
Key ingredients of the co-parental relationship are conveying respect for the other parent, maintaining constructive communication with both information-sharing and problem-solving, and developing ways of sharing responsibility for childrearing tasks. These tasks range from issues of day-to-day living to finances to movement between households.
Accomplishing such a harmonious post-divorce relationship may seem unlikely considering how messy some divorces get. Often there is a lot of hurt involved. It may take a couple of years but couples who believe harmonious co-parenting is best for the children and who make it a priority can do it. In fact, 57% of divorced couples feel they are doing it.
What makes it work? Among other things, the belief that the ex-spouse is a good parent and the recognition that the child’s relationship with them is separate and distinct from one’s own.