Different Approaches to Parenting and its Impact on Children of Divorce
We often work with clients going through a separation or divorce who have conflicts revolving around their different parenting styles or values when it comes to parenting. Although these differences are common between parents, they can become a real source of tension between parents who are no longer raising the children together in the same home. For this reason, our mediators work with parents to help them discuss these differences and how they impact their children to help smooth the transition process and the co-parenting arrangement, which can last for many years.
Differences in parenting styles can have many origins. Some can be related to cultural differences or just in how each parent was raised in their own family of origin. Other differences can be related to different personality styles or values. At the New York Divorce Mediation Group we encourage parents to share their thoughts about how their different parenting styles may be impacting their children and to voice any concerns. Often the parent who may have a “stricter” approach to parenting feels like it is unfair that the other parent is less involved with discipline or getting tasks done. That “stricter” parent may feel like the time spent with the children is more about getting things accomplished instead of the “fun” that seems to be happening with the other parent. In mediation we spend time speaking with parents; discussing how the co-parenting arrangement will work and be the most successful for the children and for the relationship that each parent has with the children. We will also talk about financial issues related to the children so that one parent does not feel that they are always saying “no” to the children while the other parent may be lavishing them with gifts. Mediation, in our opinion, is a much better environment for this type of communication than litigation.
The separation and divorce process is not only stressful for parents, but also for children, especially when differences in parenting styles come into play. One home may have a more open environment for discussing feelings while the other home may be less verbal. The differences do not mean that one way is the “right “ way, but if the styles are very different the children can often feel confused and not sure how they need to be with each parent. The children may become more isolated or start to experience symptoms such as anxiety or depression. The more open the discussion in mediation the more likely we can make each parent aware of some potential pitfalls and we can set forth options and strategies to avoid conflicts and to ensure the best outcome for the children. It is our experience that even in families where the parents are having a great deal of difficulty communicating with each other, there is a desire to set that aside when it comes to the welfare of the children. Many studies have shown that children whose parents work well together on co-parenting issues and who do not put children in the middle of their adult conflicts fare much better than other children whose parents separate or divorce.
The age of the children at the time that the parents’ marriage is dissolving can present unique challenges. Younger children, who may be less verbal or have less understanding of the situation, can experience different issues and have different reactions than children in their teens or young adult children. We, at the New York Divorce Mediation Group, have a great deal of experience in working on these parenting issues. One of our mediators is a mental health professional who has focused much of her work on families in transition. As a team we work with parents to keep the conversation moving forward in a positive direction. We talk about different approaches to raising the children now and in the future and focus together on the overall goal of co-parenting in a positive and supportive manner.
At the New York Divorce Mediation Group, we will help you negotiate through the separation and divorce process with specific intent towards the well being of your children.