Traditional philosophies of parenting hold fast to the idea that spending time away from their mothers is harmful to children. Some well-respected psychologists believe that even if a child of divorced parents spends the night with his or her own father, the bond between the child and the mother may be damaged. If you are a divorced parent of a small child, you may be concerned about this as well.
However, new research shows that time spent with fathers is not hazardous to the mother-child bond. In fact, it is likely healthy for the child's relationship with both parents.
Keeping it all in the family
The catch for some divorced parents may be that the research encourages overnight visits with dad for children as young as infancy. You may feel uncomfortable with that suggestion until you see the evidence that such an arrangement may have long-lasting advantages for your entire family. Some of the benefits of very young children staying overnight with their fathers include the following:
- Children maintained a close relationship with their fathers into young adulthood.
- Fathers felt a stronger attachment to their children each time the children stayed overnight.
- Fathers benefitted from being more involved in their children's lives from the earliest ages.
- Children grew into more emotionally stable adults because of the foundation built by their fathers in infancy
- Mothers reported stronger relationships with their children because of the reduced stress of being a full-time single parent.
The positive relationships between parents and children developed even if the court ordered the shared overnights or if there was strain in the co-parent relationship. Those children who did not enjoy overnight visits with their fathers until they were closer to adolescence reported that their relationships with their parents were not as intimate.
Advice and support
Studies show that, if both parents are attentive and responsible, the best interests of a child include equal interaction with Mom and Dad. When parents are divorced, it is not always easy to achieve this ideal. Preferably, you and your former spouse can work out a custody plan that will benefit both of you and protect the best interests of your children. This may include some sacrifice and compromise.
To assist you in creating a fair and equitable parenting plan, it may help you to have legal advice. A compassionate family law attorney can offer guidance and counsel while ensuring that any decisions protect your parental rights. Having a committed advocate may bring you some peace of mind during this trying and emotional time.