Back in 2009, a British judge, overseeing a conflictive divorce chose to quote a line from a Philip Larkin poem to the battling parents. He said, “They mess you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do/ They fill you with the faults they had/ And add some extra, just for you.”
There is a plethora of research that shows how damaging high-conflict divorces can be to children. There can be little more upsetting for a judge in a divorce case than to watch two parents doing their best to destroy each other instead of working together with their child’s future in mind. Yet, so many couples take divorce and child custody to litigation, believing they must prove the other parent is “bad” and they are “good.”
Millions of kids all across the world have watched their parents divorce. Many of them thrive still thrive, despite the circumstances. Divorce does not necessarily harm kids. What hurts, instead, is having their parents fighting. Your child loves you, and they also love their other parent. They do not want to have to choose sides, and they do not want to see the two people they love most in the world slugging it out.
Children need stability in an unstable time. The more you and your spouse can control your feelings, and the more you can discuss things in a civilized fashion, the more stable your child will feel. Choosing to settle your divorce through mediation or collaboration can vastly reduce conflict and increase the prospects that your child will come out of your divorce as intact as can be.