Fighting around the children does more damage to them than divorce itself.

A study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence shows that children exposed to constant parental bickering are more likely to be depressed. They are also more prone to expressing other “problem behaviors,” including substance abuse, aggression and poor school grades.

Never battle where kids can see or hear you. Little ears can pick up phone conversations as well as conflict behind closed bedroom doors.Parents often don’t think about the psychological impact of their arguments on children. 

Never play one parent off the other to win your child’s favors. Bashing or demeaning your former spouse hurts and angers children in serious ways. Keep personal resentments personal and don’t use your kids as sounding boards. They’ll resent you for it and pay the price in stress, anxiety, depression and/or aggression.  

Never let your children feel unimportant to you. Too many divorced parents ignore their children during custodial visits or hand them off to other caregivers so they can work. Children need to share time with parents. When they don’t, it creates conflict and anxiety.

Married or divorced, the results of parental conflict or inattention are the same: children wounded on a deep emotional level that can scar them for life. Children only get one childhood. Don’t they deserve the very best you can provide for them – your love, your attention and the security of your presence? Be the person you want them to model themselves after. You’ll never regret it – nor will they!

(January, 2012: Journal of Research on Adolescence)

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