It may sound like pure common sense, but a new study shows that if divorcing parents would focus on their children rather than their own post-marital conflict, it’s a win-win for everyone.

According to the author of a recent study, the last thing divorcing parents should do is fail to work on conflict after a divorce. If the parents keep fighting and focusing on the negative, she says, the kids will lose access to the parents and get caught up in the “ugliness” of the situation.

The study, which was conducted on a pretty small scale and is to be published in an issue of “Family Relations”, involved interviews with 20 women who were divorced and shared physical custody with their ex-spouses. About half of them reported that their relationship with their ex involved conflict, while the other half said it was amicable.

Interestingly, several of the women who had civil or cordial relationships said that it improved over time, mostly because the parents shifted their focus to the children. Here are a few other things the cordial parents reported.

• Effectively communicating about parenting styles

• Money was not a source of conflict

• They considered their ex-spouses to be responsible

• They did not attempt to limit the children’s time with the other parent

Researchers concluded that it takes a big effort from both parents to focus on the children after a divorce, particularly if it is contentious. However, the benefits of doing so can be tremendous.

Source: Psych Central, “Focus on kids eases conflict for divorced parents,” Janice Wood, Aug. 16, 2012

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