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Understanding the importance of communication in co-parenting

It is no secret that divorce is often a highly stressful experience. The loss of love, and often the loss of trust, between partners can involve emotional strains that often create barriers to ongoing communication. After the divorce is finalized, the adults often go their separate ways when it comes to day to day activities. Many individuals enter new relationships, or pursue new opportunities for their own personal growth after divorce. At the same time, maintaining a strong parent-child relationship is typically a top priority for divorced parents.

Co-parenting and communication makes a difference

Parents of minor children should be aware that the kids also feel the emotional drain during the divorce process. In February, we discussed the importance of communication and cooperation when breaking the news to the kids that you and your spouse intend to separate. New research shows that divorced parents who fail to communicate after the divorce is final may not be serving the best interests of their children.

Over the years, television dramas and anecdotal stories in the media have noted the potential issues that children face related to divorce. The idea of the so-called "fractured family" is common fodder on the internet. Recently, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a small study to compile real-world evidence on the health effects of a fractured marriage on the kids.

The study included 109 adults whose parents remained married throughout their childhood and 92 adults whose parents divorced before the participants reached adulthood. The parents of 41 of the individuals in the study continued to communicate amicably after the divorce. The parents of the 51 remaining participants had contentious divorces and stopped communicating as their children grew up.

Recognizing the impact of divorce on the kids

The researchers determined that the individuals whose parents refused to engage in any level of co-parenting were three times more likely to have health issues as adults. The authors of the study suggest that the stressful, post-divorce environment may have an impact on a child's ability to mature into a resilient and healthy adult. High levels of conflict in a family results in long-term consequences for the children.

Despite any lingering animosity you hold toward your ex after the divorce is finalized, your children will usually remain a part of your life - as well as your ex spouse's life. Co-parenting is a common term that many parents hear while going through the separation process. Learning to communicate amicably with your ex, even after moving on into your new life, can be a loving gift to your children.

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