BLOG: Research: A Father’s absence is worse than parental conflict for children

According to recent research, shared parenting can reduce the harmful effects of high conflict between parents for children. A warm relationship with each parent is a protective factor for children. In 2002, Robert Bauserman, Research Analyst at Maryland Medical Research Institute, concluded  from his meta analysis of 33 studies that compared child outcomes in sole custody and shared parenting homes that the benefits of shared parenting on children’s well being exist independent of parental conflict.

For a plethora of years, research supported the position that shared parenting in high conflict situations was harmful to children. Additional research examined the frequency of alternating contact, and found negative outcomes for children in high conflict situations and a high frequency of alternations between their mother’s and father’s homes; in other words, children were being exposed to their parents’ conflict during frequent transitions between the two households. When the frequency of transitions is reduced, and high conflict parents avoid direct contact with one another during the transitions and shield their children from the conflict, the negative effects disappear.

There is no doubt that continued, ongoing, unresolved high conflict is harmful to children of divorce. What remains under questions among legal and mental health practitioners and policymakers is the type of parenting arrangement that is best for children in high conflict situations, and the amount of time children should spend with each of their parents in such cases.

Naturally Moi

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