Mental health professionals have long believed that the ability of parents to get along is the most critical factor in children’s post-divorce well-being.
As it turns out, they were wrong.
Researchers at Kansas State University conducted a study involving 400 divorced parents and their children. They divided the parents into three basic groups: those who were co-operative in their parenting efforts, those who were moderately at odds with each other and those who were flat-out “conflicted.” None of those things seemed to matter, however, when it came to how well the children of those parents fared.
What did help children cope with their parents’ divorce? Frequent communication with the absent parent was the most important factor — even when that communication was done by text, social media or another electronic device.
For modern children, texting and social media are familiar and important forms of communication — so they don’t see it as a valueless means of interacting with their absent parent. In addition, the ability to interact directly with their absent parent without the “filter” of the present parent eliminated a lot of problems when the parents themselves were in conflict.
Psychologists say that the research makes sense. Children crave parental contact and having the absent parent readily available through text or social media can make a child feel secure and loved. It also helps those absent parents stay more involved in their children’s lives — especially if they have infrequent personal visitations.
Essentially, this study is good news for parents everywhere. Kids have turned electronic devices into tools that are making it easier for them to cope with divorce — no matter what’s going on between the parents. If you’re concerned about your child’s ability to emotionally handle your divorce, make sure that he or she has ready access to the other parent via text or online.
For all your other issues during your divorce, talk to a family law attorney about your concerns.