Divorce is never easy, but it can be especially hard when children are involved. As much as we try to put the kids first and maintain a good co-parenting relationship, there are times when that feels incredibly hard to do. Even under the best circumstances, it can be difficult to navigate life after divorce. You go from living together under one roof to sharing custody of your kids, and having them split time between two new homes. It's a really tricky transition, and can be a really hard adjustment for everyone, but especially the kids. It's so important that children stay as connected as possible to both parents, even if they spend most of their time with the custodial parent. Luckily, advancements in technology and changes to the ways we communicate have made that easier than ever. A new study shows that parent-teen relationships after divorce are stronger when teens are able to communicate with their parents through text and FaceTime.
Researchers at Kansas State University evaluated data from almost 400 divorced moms or dads with children between the ages of 10-18. They were able to identify three separate co-parenting relationships: cooperative, moderately engaged and conflictual. They studied different aspects of youth well-being, as well as the manner and frequency of communication between parent and child. They found that things like parental warmth, discipline, and parental knowledge didn't differ much between the three different co-parenting styles. However, they did discover that frequency of communication did have an impact on the relationship between parent and child. Researchers found that the more communication kids had with their parents, the better the relationship between parent and child was, regardless of the relationship between co-parents.
Frequent communication between parents and kids after divorce is key to helping kids maintain healthy relationships with their parents. This is especially true when it comes to conflicted or disengaged co-parenting relationships, which can put a strain on the relationships between parents and their kids. For tweens and teens who are old enough to have their own devices and initiate communication with their parents, being able to reach out and engage through texting and/or FaceTime gives them some control over the relationship, and allows that relationship to flourish despite less than ideal circumstances.