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Divorce may strengthen the parent-child relationship

Sometimes, it seems that all we ever read (and write about) is the negative effects of divorce on children. Certainly, a divorce is a life-changing event for all members of the family, and parents should carefully navigate their post-divorce life to lessen the impact on children as much as possible. But parents who can’t find relief from the guilt often associated with splitting up the family should take heart: in many instances, a divorce can actually strengthen the relationship between parents and children, and in turn, strengthen the family as a whole.

There are many reasons for this often-unseen benefit of divorce. First, parents have the opportunity to improve their parenting skills simply by nature of having to rely on them more. If you are the only parent at any given time, you will be the one making dinner, putting band-aids on scraped knees, driving your child to soccer practice and birthday parties, taking them to the doctor, and being there when they need you. This will inevitably build a deeper connection between you and your child.

In addition, if a parent who was not the primary caretaker, being forced into the role of single parent – and surviving – can significantly improve that parent’s confidence and capability. When you have faith in your ability to parent, you will be free to enjoy it more.

But the fact that you are enjoying it more does not mean that you don’t deserve – and need – a break. One of the benefits of co-parenting is allowing each parent to take breaks. Of course, it is difficult to go days, or even weeks, without seeing your child. But taking time for yourself, especially as you recover from the emotional ramifications of divorce, can make you a more patient and more capable parent. In addition, the joy you feel when seeing your child for the first time in days will be noticeable, making him or her feel loved, missed and happy to be back with you.

Source: The Huffington Post, “The (Sometimes) Surprising Benefits of Divorce for Parent-Child Relationships,” Jonathan Weiler and Anne J. Menkens, 11 July 2011

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