Nearly all New Jersey parents will claim that they think of their child’s welfare before anything else, no matter what. Yet, family experts have documented the adverse effects of contentious divorces on children, which may tell a different story.
No one expects divorcees to handle all of the conflicts with perfect grace. Still, exposing the degree of emotional injuries suffered by their kids could push some parents toward more diplomatic resolutions.
Damaging effects of open conflict
Psychology Today explains that children who experience their parents’ unabashed hostility before, during and after a divorce carry some degree of the damage well into adult life and may never fully recover. Children need support for their turbulent feelings during a divorce. When parents spend one-on-one time belittling or punishing the other spouse instead of concentrating their attention on their son or daughter, the emotional impact can be devastating.
Children also develop their behavior by watching and imitating their parents. Unhealthy social interaction habits learned in youth like fighting and jealousy can become so fundamental that they are nearly impossible to break.
Alternatives to hostility
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy suggests that the majority of divorcing parents do not mean to drag their children into the conflict. However, since it is unlikely that they will succeed in compartmentalizing all of the hostility, purposefully seeking peaceful alternatives to divorce court battles may be worth the effort if it spares the kids from lasting psychological harm.
Successful divorce mediation may also set the tone for functional co-parenting and amicable communication. Children often learn the most valuable life lessons from their parents, and effective conflict resolution can help them create and maintain healthy adult relationships.