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Enduring conflict in parental separation: pathways of impact on child development
journal contributionposted on 01.04.2003, 00:00 authored by Jennifer McintoshJennifer Mcintosh
There are established research truths about parental conflict and its impact on children which are increasingly respected in practice: divorce does not have to be harmful; parental conflict is a more potent predictor of child adjustment than is divorce; conflict resolution is important to children’s coping with divorce. This synopsis of recent research moves beyond these truths, to a review of emerging “news” from the literature, with a focus on known impacts of entrenched parental conflict on children’s development and capacity to adjust to separation. The findings are illustrated by the case of two siblings, Jack and Rachel1, seen in short-term therapy by the author, in the period following their parents’ highly conflictive separation. From a practitioner’s chair, the news is more than noteworthy. It provides compelling arguments for a move beyond truisms about parental conflict and children’s adjustment, beyond wishful myths of resilience, to look at the process of impact on development, within the context of parental dispute and family restructure.