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October 13, 2011
How Do Children View Parental Conflict In Divorcing Families?
There is widespread agreement that one of the troubling aspects of divorce is the negative effects of parental conflict on children. There has been a steady stream of scientific findings indicating that children whose parents do not resolve their marital conflict have difficulties adjusting. We know much about the conflict from the parents’ view, but what about how children view this conflict?
In a recent study conducted in Australia, Jennifer McIntosh, Bruce Smyth, Yvonne Wells, and Caroline Long examined conflict in families in the four years following divorce. There were 133 families who had children ages 6-19 years of age with an average age of 13. All of the families participated in mediation to assist in deciding the parenting arrangements. Overall, these families reported a significant amount of conflict prior to the divorce. At the initial assessment prior to mediation, 59% of the mothers and 42% of the fathers reported high conflict. Additionally, 63% of the mothers and 50% of the fathers did not think very well of the parenting skills of the other parent.