Divorced “Shrapnel” Hits Parents and Children

A preponderance of evidence demonstrates that the shrapnel from a divorce hits both parents and children.  According to psychologists, divorce diminishes children’s and adult’s psychological well being with difficulties that include “greater unhappiness, less satisfaction with life, weaker sense of personal control, anxiety, depression, and greater use of mental health services.” Children of divorced parents divorce more frequently themselves and are also more often involved in short cohabitation ending before marriage.

Moreover, divorce parenting challenges the former spouses no matter how hard they try. “People think that post-separation parenting is easy – in fact, it is exceedingly difficult, and as a rule of thumb my experience is that the more intelligent the parent, the more intractable the dispute,” says Nicholas Wall, retired President of the Family Division of the English High Court. “There is nothing worse, for most children, than for their parents to denigrate each other. Parents simply do not realize the damage they do to their children by the battles they wage over them. Separating parents rarely behave reasonably, although they always believe that they are doing so, and that the other party is behaving unreasonably.”

Parents unintentionally put children in a crossfire by, for example, “asking children to carry messages between parents, grilling children about the other parent’s activities, telling children the other parent does not love them,” and (particularly) badmouthing the other parent.

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