Children are often the victims of high conflict divorce. We have all heard the statistics regarding the skyrocketing divorce rates in the United States. Many people consider divorce to be relatively commonplace in today’s world. However, those experiencing a divorce understand why it is regarded as a significant “psychosocial crisis.” There are ways to protect yourself and your children and create a more healthy divorce.
It is estimated that nearly 1/4 of divorced families experience conflict up to two years after the divorce is finalized. Previously divorce has been viewed as a short-term family crisis. Recently, physicians and therapists have brought to light the need for family court professionals and parents to understand the long-term view of the effects of divorce. Parental divorce battles have become the new normal for many children, and this environment has been likened to living “midst a war zone.”
Divorce: #1 Adverse Childhood Experience
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events in a child’s life. This trauma can include abuse, domestic violence, parental mental illness, and divorce. ACEs significantly reprogram the stress-response system and affect the normal brain development of growing children. Recently, research has linked Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) with an array of physical and mental disorders in adults. Researchers have correlated ACEs to long-term psychological and physical health concerns such as depression, substance abuse, heart disease, and cancers.
Divorce Mediation is an Important First Step
Mediation is an avenue for divorcing spouses to reach mutually agreeable compromises. Mediation can shield your children from the worst parts of divorce and create a more healthy divorce. Mediated agreements can save you time and money in the divorce process as well. Conversely, litigation tends to stir up more conflict. Typically, the initial breakup causes trauma resulting from loss and adjustment for children. A prolonged period of high-conflict exposure can result in a greater risk of unfavorable health, developmental and academic outcomes for these children. Choose mediation over litigation for a more healthy divorce for your family.
Divorce Coaching Can Help to Protect Children
Not all children who experience high conflict divorce develop significant physical or mental health problems. Evidence suggests that some protective factors may help insulate children from ACES and support positive outcomes. My mission as a divorce coach focuses on providing divorcing parents with the information and game plan to protect their children and minimize the effects/impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). Together we can create a more healthy divorce scenario for your family.
It’s a Community Effort
By educating our community professionals who work with families, we can begin to wrap our arms around the impacts of ACEs and buffer our children against these harmful events. There are many ACEs affecting children that a community can work together to mitigate, such as poverty, poor housing, domestic violence, and substance abuse. High conflict divorce is an ACE directly linked to the behavior of the children’s parents. Educating parents and arming them with strategies to better guard their children against the conflict of divorce is an essential first step. Teachers, therapists, and court professionals also need to learn how to “lean in” and ask the right questions so that they may begin to assist and reduce the effects of toxic stress on the children.
One person can change the trajectory of a child’s life. While we hope that person is a parent, it can also be a teacher, coach, counselor, or anyone in the community. Adversity is a fact of life. Resiliency begins when an adult cares enough to provide safety to a child during an adverse event.