Going through a divorce can be overwhelming, not only for the couple who is terminating their marriage, but for the children who are unwilling participants of the separation. It can be extremely difficult for kids to transition from a two-parent family and household to a single-parent living arrangement. Traditionally, courts award sole-physical custody to the parent who is the primary caretaker of the child in order to keep the child in a consistent environment. However, studies show that joint-physical custody may provide children with many behavioral and developmental benefits.
The study, published in the journal Family Psychology, looked at kids residing in joint-custody, sole-custody and traditional living arrangements. Over time, researchers found that children who spend a significant amount of time with both their mother and father faired better than those in sole-custody situations. Kids in joint-custody arrangements developed stronger social relationships, had a higher self-esteem and did better in school. They also showed fewer emotional and behavioral problems.
The reason for this may be that children reep different benefits from each parent. For example, while mothers tend to provide caring, nurturing and safe relationships with their children, fathers give kids the motivation to explore their surroundings, try new things and become independent. Parents who share custody of the kids are generally more positive around one another, which can benefit children as well. Negativity, stress and tension between parents can affect kids and cause them to experience more stress and anxiety. In most cases, it is highly beneficial for kids to spend quality time with both parents.