It is hard to figure out why some parents are able to separate with little difficulty, while others seem to get ‘stuck’ in conflict after separation, unable to step away from it, and unable to protect their children from the negative consequences of conflict.
Conflict has been found to be the most important factor in both children’s and parents’ adjustment after separation and a stronger predictor of how children cope after separation, than the actual event of separation. General conflicts between the parents after divorce can almost double the problems related to children’s coping and adjustment in cases where the conflict between parents was hostile or aggressive.
There are a number of ways to protect a child caught between parents’ high conflict. Children adjust better when they have a good relationship with at least one of the parents, a caregiver, or a mentor. Children do better when they have the support of their brothers and sisters, and when adequate boundaries are put around the conflict. Children also do better when at least one of their parents provides appropriate warmth and caring, even when there is conflict between the parents.
This guide is published by the Department of Justice Canada, and provides information about parenting after separation and divorce, including:
- how to decide on the best parenting arrangement for your children
- what processes you can use to come to a parenting arrangement
- what you (parents) may be feeling
- what your children may be feeling