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Why children need two involved parents after divorce

Possession of and access to the children can become a hotly contested issue in many divorces. Sometimes, one parent wants to deny the other parent an active role in their child’s life.

While that’s not good for the affected parent, it can be even more devastating for the child. Any child’s world may be turned upside down for a while when their parents get divorced, and having access to both parents during and after the split can be essential for children to recover.

Studies have shown the benefits of shared parenting over and over again

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for one parent (usually the mother) to have primary possession, or custody, of the children after a divorce. The other parent (usually the father) got fairly limited access, or visitation, usually on something like alternating weekends and a few holidays each year. It was presumed to be better for the children because it put one parent in charge as the primary caregiver.

Now, studies have shown that kind of thing is actually quite harmful. Here’s why shared parenting is much more beneficial:

  • Children are less likely to feel profound loss: A divorce is stressful, but losing a parent is worse – and that’s what it can feel like when a child suddenly only has limited contact with one parent.
  • Children with two actively involved parents are less likely to develop behavior problems: Children of divorce where only one parent stayed in their lives are more likely to have trouble with grades, get involved with drugs or alcohol and have mental health issues and legal problems.
  • Children learn how to manage conflicts better: Kids model what they see, and watching their parents successfully navigate a healthy co-parenting relationship can affect how they navigate their own relationships in the future.

If your ex-spouse has sought to distance you from your child’s life through some form of “gatekeeping” or by outright trying to prevent you from obtaining equal possession or fair access, you have every right to fight back – and you owe it to your child to do so.

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