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The Effects of Parental Conflict on Children

During a divorce, parents can become increasingly angry and far more stressed than they were before reaching the decision to separate. Asset distribution, custody issues, parenting time plans, and many other difficult decisions can create tension in the home or any place that divorcing parents are brought together. Any fighting that may occur can leave a lasting impression on the children involved.

Children of divorced parents are affected by fighting both at the time of the argument and years into the future. According to WebMD, children’s emotional development is likely to be affected by heated conflict between their parents. A child’s emotional security is especially affected, often creating depression and anxiety when parental conflicts are unresolved.

Modern studies have shown that divorce can be a relief for children caught between fighting parents because they no longer live in the middle of the constant conflict. According to adolescent psychologist Nancy Cahir, “conflict between parents can be just as damaging as physical abuse.” Parental conflict can also lead to trust issues and difficulties with attachment.

Fighting parents can cause an unexpected issue for their children. A child’s sleep pattern can be negatively affected by parental conflict, causing the loss of 30 minutes or more of sleep per night. If this loss occurs in the middle of regular sleep patterns it can be even more disruptive, leading to irritability and other behavioral issues. Parental conflict can even lead to physical illness in extreme cases.

Studies by psychology professor Patrick Davies have shown that children exposed to fighting between parents do not get used to the conflict over time. Instead, they become more sensitive to it. Parents who stay together for their children’s sake are more likely to have a negative effect on them. Children exposed to conflict very often expressed the wish that their parents had divorced sooner.

Children’s emotional and behavioral stability and growth is negatively affected by their parent’s hostility, however, unresolved conflict is much worse. Although parents should do their best to avoid exposing their children to conflict, they can reduce potential impact by allowing their children to see the issue end with compromise or resolution.

Please contact leading Grand Rapids divorce attorneys Johnsen Wikander to discuss available solutions before your children are affected.

Stress Management and Divorce

The decision to divorce is usually reached after the most difficult period in a marriage. During this time, it is important to pay attention to your own well-being to help maintain clarity and manage the stress that accompanies the end of a relationship.

Even a mutually accepted decision to separate is accompanied with stressful tasks, such as financial and property distribution, and child visitation decisions. Changing bank account and credit card information can disrupt work and create additional layers of complexity, all of which may lead to more stress.

Children Know

Children are far more aware of divorce-related stress in their parents than they are often given credit for. Heated arguments, unexplained absences, and stormy relationships do not go unnoticed, often leading to feelings of guilt for children caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce proceedings.

It is important to maintain a clear head through difficult times, which can prevent snap decisions or heated arguments over less important details. Life must go on for parents and children alike, making stress management an important part of the divorce process.

Balance the difficulties of divorce with uplifting activities to help reduce stress. Here are some ideas to try. Go alone to recharge, or take your kids and use the time to help them through their own divorce related challenges.

Find Distractions

Go to the beach. It’s hard to beat the sound of crashing waves and the feeling of sand between your toes. Michigan has some of the best beaches in the world so why not try a walk along the water’s edge. The beach is even beautiful in the winter when the ice chunks pile up along the shore.

See a movie or read a book. There is nothing like an exciting storyline and strong characters to provide a distraction. A good book can transport the reader to beautiful, distant, and even imaginary places where the burdens are carried by someone else.

Get Away

Take a day or weekend trip. Michigan has so many incredible destinations within easy reach. The renaissance taking place in Detroit has made it an attractive destination for food and entertainment. Chicago is only a few hours away too, with Michigan Avenue shopping or the city’s world-class museums all within walking distance from most hotels.

Experience local culture. It’s often easy to overlook the closest attractions. Think like a tourist and visit some of the local tourist draws such as Art Prize in Grand Rapids or the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. Or, visit one of the many wonderful exhibits at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Let Us Help

The end of any relationship weighs heavily on everyone involved. Please call or email us today and let Johnsen Wikander help reduce the stress of your divorce.

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