Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Shuffling our kids around

My parents separated and divorced when I was in junior high school. Although I am not sure of the exact terms of the custody arrangement, I can say that my brother and I lived with our Mom and visited our Dad for a few weeks during the summer. I am pretty sure this was because we lived in South Carolina and my Dad lived in Indiana.

Presumably, this situation should have been low-stress on my brother and I: We had one home, lived with one parent and were not shuffled between two homes within the same city. But new research suggests that a shared custody situation - one in which children spend part of their week with each parent - is actually the least stressful.

The study (which was conducted in Sweden) took a look at children's psychosomatic health problems (sleeping disorders, concentration issues, loss of appetite and feelings of tension). They found that children who lived with two parents in the same household reported the least amount of issues. This was followed by the children who lived in shared-custody situations. The children who reported feeling the most stressed-related symptoms were those who lived in a single-parent home. Evidently, the idea that a child spends time with both their parents within the week trumps any stress felt by being a "suitcase kid" who has two homes.

But, as the study notes, shared custody arrangements as described above aren't as common in the U.S. as they are in other countries: There are a lot of factors to affect a custody agreement. I have several divorced friends whose ex-spouses live in other cities or states (like my parent's did) because of work, and I am sure that the general ability of the divorced couple to still get along is also a giant factor. Communication around children and parenting styles is essential for shared custody to work.

Were you raised by divorced parents? What was your living arrangement like? Tell me about it in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. The results of that study are fascinating. My kids are full time with me, their dad, and spend about one weekend a month at their mom's. I think that how the children relate to each parent may also have an effect. For instance, they really don't like going to their mom's at all. They are always relieved to get home.

    Gilbert @ McCormick Divorce & Family Law