Pros And Cons Of Relocation After Divorce

Pros And Cons Of Relocation After Divorce

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Children of divorce want both parents close to them. But, if the parents are belligerent, living close to each other exposes a child to ongoing conflict. The problem is that if parents live too far can also have a negative impact on a child.

According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology children are harmed when a divorced parent moves more than an hour away. These findings were based on a study of two thousand college students, six hundred of whom were from divorced families.

Children whose parents move away after divorce tend to suffer from higher degree of hostility and stress and experience lesser satisfaction from their lives.

It is estimated that 17 to 25% of custodial parents move out of the area within the first two years after divorce. In For better or for worse, E. Hetherington and J. Kelly last year reported that custodial mothers moved four times in the first six years after the divorce.

The responsibility falls on the courts to somehow reconcile the competing demands of the aggrieved parents.

Parents do not necessarily relocate because they want to deprive or make it difficult for the other parent to see his or her child. Often parents move for such reason as not having a support system of their own, financial needs, better paying job, baby sitting assistance from grandparents or simply to get away from a harassing parent.

After divorce, how to BE a co-parent parent is the question! How does one parent form a working relationship with the other so as to keep the children out of the middle is the question. In order to refrain from retaliation and making unreasonable demands, parents must recognize such behaviors impact the children when they don't get along.

Perhaps someone reading this article is thinking, "I didn't get along with her (or him) when we were married. That's the reason we divorced. So, how does Dr. Sharma expect us to get along now?"

That is a rhetorical question. But here is an answerable question: "Which state of mind s most conducive to taking the best decisions?" Furthermore, "What is that state of mind in which the pros and cons of a decision can be thought out and best negotiations can be worked out? As parents we owe it to our children to take only the decisions that are in their best interest.

Decisions regarding such matters as visitations, summer camp, pocket money, band, gifts or disciplining methods go a long way in fashioning a child into a responsible and successful adult.

Would your child be a well-adjusted adult? Would he (or she) be a good citizen, parent and spouse? Your success as a parent depend on the final outcome and not by momentary 'wins" and "getting even."

Infants and toddlers need to be fed, played with, soothed and put to bed by both parents so they can fully develop the capacity to form attachment and be able to love another human being.

Little children need more frequent and intensive contact with the non-moving parent to develop healthy attachment. Such exposure may not be possible in once-in-six month visitation for a few days.

A driving distance of more than 75 miles can create considerable barriers between a child and the nonmoving parent.

On the positive side of things, some parents actually spend more time with their children than they actually did before the divorce.

Post-divorce conflict may be more harmful than the pre-divorce conflict.

If post divorce interaction is highly acrimonious and frightening to a child, relocation, actually might be an effective "geographical cure."

Children hurt when they see their parent in a hurtful relationship. The real danger is that they may come to believe that hurting and inflicting pain on each other is the norm. When they model their relationship on an abusive pattern, conflict, pain and abuse become the currency of their intimate relationship.

If you can't settle your disputes between just the two of you, try using a mediator. Beware of an attorney that is trying to get you all "pumped up" for the court battle. If you do take the mediation option, engage in it with a good attitude and calm mind.

Have you heard the saying, "If you can't take a decision, a decision will be made for you?"

If both parents don't come to an agreement over a decision regarding their child, the court will! Don't let someone else dictate how your child should live? When we let the anger get the best of us, that is exactly what happens.

Greatest gift parents can give to their children is to show respect for the other parent. Yes, even after a painful and bitter divorce. In fact, the more tumultuous and bitter the divorce is, the more vulnerable the child is. Therefore, it becomes even more imperative to become the model of post-divorce harmony and creative co-parenting.

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Copyright 2004, Mind Publications 
Posted January 2004


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