Helping children to master happiness after your breakup
A new study from Australia has once again highlighted the importance of keeping conflict away from children after a breakup.
The research was conducted by Leanne Francia, a student from the psychology department of the beautifully named University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Francia conducted in-depth interviews with people aged 16 to 27 whose parents had separated or divorced.
The study looked into the long-term emotional effect of post-separation conflict between parents, and the ongoing impact this can have on children as they grow into adults.
Francia asked the participants about their emotional experiences before, during and after their parents’ separation, and quizzed them on how they feel to this day. She said she wanted to give a voice to the children of separated parents, having tended to encounter research based on parents’ reports of their children’s wellbeing.
The research will be published as ‘Mastery or Misery: Conflict between separated parents a psychological burden for children’ in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage.
‘Master or misery’ refers to the two pathways children can take after a parental separation. Mastery usually happens when parents are able to resolve their conflicts, and their children can grow up in much the same way as the children of non-separated parents. Unfortunately, when parental conflict continues, children’s emotional development can be hindered, leading to what Francia refers to as ‘misery’.
A failure to resolve conflict can have serious consequences for children caught up in it, with some participants reporting suicidal feelings. These results are a clear reminder of how important it is for separated parents to do what they can to resolve conflict or, at the very least, keep it away from children.
Our free service Splitting Up? Put Kids First allows you to manage your children’s arrangements even without the need for direct contact with your ex, and can help keep conflict to a minimum.