A recent study found that the type of parenting arrangement that is decided on post-divorce has an impact on how children view the conflict between their parents.
The recent study analyzed data from 133 families with children between the ages of 6 to 19 years old, with 13 being the average age. The information from the families was in relation to the four years that followed a divorce.
When it came to the level of conflict and how it changed over time, in general all the children reported a decreased level over the four years, but for those children who had little time with one parent there was still a higher level of distress at the end of the four years than those who had contact with both parents, but with one primary caregiver.
Additionally, when it came to children's feelings of being stuck in the middle between two parents, those in a shared parenting arrangement reported a moderate level of distress over the entire four year period, which did not really change that much from beginning to end. However, for those children that had a parenting arrangement with one primary caregiver, the distress was higher right after the divorce, but was at the lowest level after four years.
But, when looking at the shared parenting experiences, even those groups were divided into those situations where the schedule was very rigid with time evenly split with no exceptions made, versus those where the shared parenting arrangement was more flexible. Overall those kids in the more rigid set-schedule type of parenting reported the greatest level of unhappiness with the situation.
In general this study highlights the importance of putting careful consideration into parenting arrangements. Is it really better to just have parenting time split fifty-fifty no matter what? Or is it better to adapt and change the schedule to better fit the needs of the mother, father and children's lifestyles?
What do you think? What's the best parenting arrangement?
Source: Huffington Post, "How Do Children View Parental Conflict in Divorcing Families?" Robert Hughes Jr., Oct. 12, 2011