Research Shows Parental Conflict, Not Divorce, Is What Harms Kids

Research Shows Parental Conflict, Not Divorce, Is What Harms Kids

Conventional wisdom has long suggested that divorce is bad for kids and that kids whose parents get divorced are more likely to get divorced themselves. But a recent study in Marriage & Family Review, as reported in Business Insider, suggests that parental conflict is what’s hard on the kids and that divorce can actually be part of the solution.

Researchers analyzed data on American families from 1987 to 2003 to assess how children of divorce compared to children of unhappy marriages when both groups had reached adulthood. The researchers found that high levels of family conflict — such as parents fighting, money worries, physical and verbal abuse. — was a determining factor in whether kids would later get divorced. Children in high-conflict families where the parents got divorced were no more likely to get divorced than children in low-conflict families where the parents stayed together. The children most likely to get divorced were those in high-conflict families where the parents did not get divorced.

Clearly, lowering your children’s exposure to conflict is good for them. If you can work out your conflict in marriage therapy, great! But if you can’t reduce the level of conflict without getting divorced, you shouldn’t worry that getting divorced will be harder on your kids. As long as your divorce dials down the conflict, your kids could be getting a net benefit.

Mediating your divorce takes a great deal of the emotional pressure out of the process, because:

  • Mediation is cooperative — You work with rather than against your spouse to find solutions for your issues. The process is potentially very healing, because the solutions you create not only relieve current conflicts but are also designed to prevent conflicts from erupting in the future.
  • Mediation keeps you in control — When you take a divorce to trial, you risk having the judge render an adverse decision that, regardless of your feelings, has the force of law. But in mediation, you don’t have to sign on to an agreement you don’t believe in. When you finally reach a settlement you feel comfortable signing, you know it’s the best compromise you could work out. And because both of you have ownership of the agreement you’ve created, you are both more likely to abide by it, reducing the chances of future conflict.
  • Mediation protects your privacy — Taking a divorce to trial means appearing in a public forum and creating a public record. Mediation sessions are held in private, and all statements are confidential. You can express yourself freely without worrying that a slip of the tongue might come back to haunt you.

So, if you’re getting divorced to reduce conflict, why not choose the divorce process that is least contentious? An experienced mediator at our firm can help you get started.

If you are considering mediation for your New York divorce, Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. can help. Call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.

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