If the parents-child relationship is of primary importance in shaping the child’s character, so the parent’s marriage can set a standard.
Parents who feel comfortable in their marriage and have amiable ways to resolve conflicts create a favorable atmosphere in which their child can learn trust and cooperation.
When parents are sharply critical of each other or have open disagreements, they are almost certain to raise a child with an unsure hold on her own values. Parents should try to show their child a united front even in the midst of disagreement. Later, when they are alone together, they can discuss their differences and seek a common ground.
When a marital break-up occurs, parents are often tempted to change their parenting style, many lower their behavioral standards in the belief that a youngster’s anger and confusion will diminish if she is allowed to have her way.
However, experts insist that just the opposite is the case-the child experiences such indulgence not as an expression of love, but as a form of neglect or abandonment. She carves the consistency and continuity that discipline played in her life before her parents separated.
Many children going through the first throes of their parent’s divorce demonstrate their need for greater adult control with a variety of testing types of behavior ranging from tantrum to stealing, destroying property, hitting and telling lies. Others regress temporarily into infantile dependency extremely shy and fearful of others.
Studies of children during and after divorce show that it is not actually the separation of parents that is likely to cause a child to be angry, depressed and unruly, but because the open conflict that many divorcing couples display. Interestingly, children who have lost a parent to death are less likely to experience severe behavior problems than those whose parents break up.
Divorcing parents should do their best to cooperate with each other; and should also reassure the child reassure the child that although mom and dad cannot live together any more, but they will both always love her and care about her future.