Why Divorce Isn't Always Bad For The Kids

christina aguilera getting divorced for her kid
Heartbreak, Family

A la Christina Aguilera, couples breaking up for their kid's sake can be a good thing.

Divorce can emotionally damage a child, but couples who choose to stay together and fight frequently aren't providing a healthy alternative.

This was Burlesque star Christina Aguilera's mentality when she filed for divorce from her hubby Jordan Bratman. She told People Magazine that she didn't want her 2-year-old son Max to grow up in a house filled with tension like she did and that it's not good for kids to grow up with arguments. Children Of Divorced Parents May Be At Higher Risk For Stroke

Though we're saddened to see the couple go their separate ways, Christina has a point.

In the 2006 January/February issue of Child Development, University of Notre Dame psychologist E. Mark Cummings and his colleagues reported their findings on how important it is for a child to feel secure about their parents' relationship with one another.

In each study, the Notre Dame researchers looked for changes in the children that could be directly linked to parental conflict, and what they found was that parental conflict wasn't a problem if the parents resolved their differences. But if the conflicts weren't solved, children responded with depression, anxiety, and/or behavior problems. The Key To Fighting Fair In A Relationship

"Parents don't realize that children are sensitive to their conflicts," Cummings says. "But we find they are sensitive at very early ages—starting at 1 year of age, at least. Children are like emotional Geiger counters with regard to their parents' relationship. If parents really resolve things, children will know it. If they don't, children will know that, too."

Another study, carried out by researcher Dr. Gordon Harold of Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales, found that verbally or physically aggressive fights, the "silent treatment," intense quarrels and arguments concerned with or involving the child are the worst for children.

Harold's study found that "kids as young as 3 years old can pick up on tension between parents, and when children are upset by fighting or tension, they may act out, freeze or become very clingy." Even worse than that is the child may actually blame themselves for their parents' fighting.

A child learns from their parent's example, which is why it's so important for couples to "fight the good fight." There are constructive ways to resolve conflict, and just as negative fighting styles rubs off on a child, so can positive ones. Kids can learn negotiative skills, compromise, and compassion when parents carry out a healthy argument.