We recently discussed the effects of marital breakdowns on the family’s children. Fighting constantly but staying together to avoid divorce is no better; the harmful effects for your children are of the same magnitude. When children are exposed daily to their parents’ resentment for each other, the outcome on their development can be equally catastrophic. In other words, divorce is not what emotionally destroys the children; the bad and harmful communication between the parents before and after the divorce does!

So, we established the importance of not just settling for a broken and devastatingly unhappy marriage for only the sake of the children because they are the ones that will suffer the most. ‘When a parent treats a child in a harsh or critical way, it is worse for the child than if that parental figure leaves, as long as the remaining parent is loving.  The child may grieve the loss of the parent, but that grief can heal with enough support from the remaining parent, whereas the constant negativity is permanently disabling to the child’.

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The majority of parents who find themselves in this uncomfortable and stressful situation, to say the least, worry about this new role of being single parents. And the question in everyone’s mind is: ‘will my children become unhappier living with with just one biological parent?’ A recent study in the UK, published in April 2014 and presented at the British Sociological Association in Leeds, found that ‘children living with a stepparent or a lone parent are as happy as those living with two biological parents’.

Researchers from NatCen Social Research analyzed data from the Millennium Cohort Study on 12, 877 children aged seven in 2008 and found no significant difference in happiness. Whether those children lived with a step parent and a biological parent, both biological parents or in a single parent family, made absolutely no difference to how they rated their happiness (ScienceDaily).

To make the results more valid and to avoid other variables which could influence the outcome,  researchers even statistically removed the consequences of other factors such as parental social class. This way the effects of family type were isolated. Still, the results showed no significant differences. When older children were also observed Ms Chanfreau told the conference that: ‘we found that the family type had no significant effect on the happiness of the seven-year-colds or the 11-15 year old’.

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However, one of the most vital ingredients to children’s happiness before and after a marital separation is the effective way the parents will behave themselves and communicate with each other.  According to Dr. Laura Markham: ‘the good news, after a divorce, is that we know what the risk factors are that leave kids scarred.  The bad news is that avoiding these risks takes enormous maturity on the part of both parents’.

A divorce should never be taken lightly but when is the only solution left then both parents are asked to make  their children’s best interests their first and foremost priority. They have to make sure you  stay emotionally available for your children so as to protect them from the negative consequences of marital difficulties.

‘Encouraging such a relationship where you let  your child know that you genuinely want him to love his mother and father and to be close to both parents,  is the most loving, caring, and healthy thing you can do for your child. Research indicates that the strongest predictor of child health in the aftermath of a divorce is the ability to have close relationships with both parents. Encouraging your child to love his or her other parent is the best thing you can do to help him or her cope well with the divorce.’ (rosen.com)

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