The Worst Thing Divorced Parents Can Do to Their Kids

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If you're divorced (or contemplating that scenario), you may be wondering what custody arrangement is best for your kids. Well, a new study says you should consider joint custody over sole custody, since living with both separated parents is less stressful for kids.


Surprised? Me too -- whenever I see divorced kids shuttling back and forth between their parents' homes with a backpack, I think: Poor kid, that must be so disruptive. This may also explain why joint custody is rare, accounting for less than 20 percent of custody situations among divorces in the U.S.

Yet according to this study, which examines data from over 150,000 12- to 15-year-olds, kids who lived with both of their separated parents reported fewer psychological problems than those who lived with just one.

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And now that I think about it, this makes total sense. While it's certainly "disruptive" to carry your clothes, books, and toothbrush back and forth to both parents' homes, I think that concern feels superficial compared to the far MORE disruptive and painful case where a child loses regular contact with a parent. It's like comparing a scratch on an elbow to a broken arm.

What this study drives home for me is whether you're divorced or married, kids deeply need both their parents -- in fact, the more caring adults in their life, the better. Shuttling back and forth between them is a minor inconvenience compared to the love and support they get when they're around people they love.

Do you think joint or sole custody is better for kids?


Image via Rachata Sinthopachakul/shutterstock

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