Family instability has a deep effect on the environment in which children grow up. There have been many studies on how parental separation impacts a child’s mental health and wellbeing, but few understand the matter better than those who deal with those families directly on a daily basis. Tracy Miller, a family lawyer in Kitchener, has published an insightful piece on parental separation on her blog. Her firm, Miller Law, has dealt in family law for over 20 years; in addition to separation and divorce, these lawyers also deal with custody and access issues.

How a Family Lawyer in Kitchener Views the Impact of Separation

Too often, Miller writes, children whose parents are separating can suffer a form of “collateral damage” in the process. This happens even when parents think they’re doing everything by the book.

Children are incredibly perceptive. Their curious minds are built to soak in as much information as possible; unfortunately, that includes the negative emotions that surface in parents during the breakdown of a relationship.

“If you are an emotional wreck because you are always stressed and worrying about your divorce, of course it is going to affect how you talk to your kids”, Miller writes.

While parents often try their best to spare their children from the details of the separation, it is far more difficult to mask feelings of anger and unhappiness that arise during the process. This can have a powerful and long-lasting impact.

“Sadly, 10 to 20 years later, they can recite the details of their parent’s divorce”, writes Miller, “And they are telling this to a divorce lawyer because history has repeated itself. Just as their parents did, they are getting divorced.”

This observation is backed up by studies that show evidence that those who experience a parental divorce are significantly more likely to divorce themselves. The truth is, a KW-Law family lawyer may well serve two generations of divorcees over the course of her career.

What Parents Should Avoid When Separating

One thing parents must do, according to Miller, is resist the temptation to recount to kids “their side of the story.” While parents may see it necessary to defend themselves, this behaviour can unwittingly shift stress onto the children.

“It leaves them in the middle, not knowing who to believe or blame…and powerless to do anything about it.”

Examples include pointing to the other parent’s lack of support as a reason why you can’t pay for something for the child, or blaming the other parent for not allowing the child to visit. The lawyers at Miller Law have seen this occur time and time again, since these layers also deal with custody and access.