I’ve spent years honing my legal practice and...
The Effect of Divorce on Adolescent-Parent Communication
Recently, I came across a fascinating article by Canadian mental health advocate and Huffington Post writer Patricia Tomasi and felt compelled to write to her about this concept of whether teens whose parents divorce are affected in the ways that they communicate with their parents. (There’s lots of great research in the article, so check it out!)
In a nutshell, the research suggests that post-divorce, especially daughters experience difficulty communicating with their fathers. This makes sense to me, and here’s why.
Fathers often rely on mothers to serve as buffers between them and the children. In a two-parent home, fathers often spend less time with the children, or take less time to understand their children on a personal level, relying on their wives to do that important work for them.
It’s a problem, definitely! And especially when research reveals that children often unconsciously learn how to have relationships based on the relationship they have with their opposite sex parent. So if a daughter has trouble talking with her dad post-divorce, this can have immense repercussions on a variety of levels.
There are many fathers, however, who continue with the status quo, and if children are with them half the time, that’s a problem.
I’d love it if we could have automatic reviews of the parenting time schedule, like we do with child support. In Michigan, every three years, the Friend of the Court reviews the child support amounts at no cost to the parents, and makes adjustments as needed.
However, if a parent wants to change parenting time, and the other parent does not agree, they must file a motion with the court and meet difficult legal standards.
We want children to have good, healthy, communicative relationships with both parents. What is the best way we can assure this happens?