When Parents Get Divorced...

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When Parents Get Divorced...
How divorce affects the bonds parents have with their kids

Practical Parenting Through Divorce
On a practical level, maintaining the attachment bond with both mother and father is important for the baby to develop into a well-rounded child, as mother and father both contribute to the emotional development of the child's experience.
The consensus of research literature indicates it is the conflict between divorcing parents which causes disruption to the attachment bond plus development of anxiety, depression and other maladaptive emotions and behaviors in children, not the divorce itself (Hannibal, 2007).
Co-parenting with both parents involved is possible if both parents are emotionally healthy enough to commit to creating a reasonable co-parenting atmosphere.

Practical Parenting of an Infant Through Divorce
Generally, in Phase 1 of attachment, an infant 0 to 3 months of age should not be involved in overnight visitations with the non-custodial parent. The newborn, the fourth trimester infant, needs to be contained in a secure atmosphere of continuity so as to develop an attachment bond with the primary caregiver. In order to build a foundation for a secondary attachment, the noncustodial parent should have frequent, short visitation so he can get to know the baby.


In Phase 2, the baby grows in awareness. He is the process of developing the reciprocal attachment bond in the entire first year of life with his primary caregiver. It is of the utmost importance to preserve the developing baby's feelings of security and experience of continuity. During this period, frequent visitations by the non-custodial parent is advisable to develop and sustain the attachment bond with multiple caregivers in the baby's life.

It is especially crucial to maintain frequent visitation during the sensitive period of consolidation of the biological and psychological attachment bond which occurs in the six to eighteen month period of life.

However, overnight visitations should be carefully introduced and the baby's reactions carefully monitored for distress over separation from his primary attachment figure. Some babies can adapt to being away from his/her primary attachment figure for longer periods of time than others. The baby's well-being should be paramount. The baby should not be part of a triangulated situation where by the adults are getting their emotional sustenance from the baby. Rather, the adults need to take care to create a stable atmosphere for the baby. Some children cannot tolerate an overnight separation from their primary caregiver until after the second or third year of life, others are more able to adapt (Haiman, 2011).

A creative way to sustain a continuous atmosphere for babies is to maintain one residence where the baby lives all the time, and the adults switch to this residence at different times. This is called “nesting.” If nesting doesn't appeal to you, and you freely reject this idea, then take away from this a sensitivity to your child's emotions when he has two homes, yet has no way to reject this way of living.

Article contributed by

This Emotional Life


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