A Father’s Absence Is Worse Than Parental Conflict For Children

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Photography by NHOPHOTOS; Chicago, IL

According to recent research, shared parenting can reduce the harmful effects of high conflict between parents for children. A warm relationship with each parent is a protective factor for children. In 2002, Robert Bauserman, Research Analyst at Maryland Medical Research Institute, concluded  from his meta analysis of 33 studies that compared child outcomes in sole custody and shared parenting homes that the benefits of shared parenting on children’s well being exist independent of parental conflict.

For a plethora of years, research supported the position that shared parenting in high conflict situations was harmful to children. Additional research examined the frequency of alternating contact, and found negative outcomes for children in high conflict situations and a high frequency of alternations between their mother’s and father’s homes; in other words, children were being exposed to their parents’ conflict during frequent transitions between the two households. When the frequency of transitions is reduced, and high conflict parents avoid direct contact with one another during the transitions and shield their children from the conflict, the negative effects disappear.

There is no doubt that continued, ongoing, unresolved high conflict is harmful to children of divorce. What remains under questions among legal and mental health practitioners and policymakers is the type of parenting arrangement that is best for children in high conflict situations, and the amount of time children should spend with each of their parents in such cases.




  1. anonymous

    August 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

    So…has anybody figured out that most sistah’s don’t care about harming their children when they stop their “baby daddy” from seeing his children (smile)?

    • Nedrea

      August 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Most women are not like that, but this article is slanted because it is one sided, and it is one sided because there are a lot of men who are irresponsible and don’t take care of their children.

      • spence clark

        August 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

        there are also a lot of women who are irresponsible and do not take care of their children also. and there are also a lot of women who are like that, although you may think a lot of women are not like that.

        • Guest

          August 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm


          I really detest that men bring up the irresponsibility of women to detract from the fact that black men have dropped the ball when it comes to raising their kids. Common sense should tell you that if most black households with children are headed by women, then women for the most part, are doing what they need to do by their kids. Now whether they are letting the kids see the father is beside the fact, because the women are feeding, clothing and providing shelter for their kids ALL BY THEMSELVES without the aid of child support in many cases. The basic point is the WOMEN ARE THERE, the MEN are NOT! Stop blaming others for the lack of responsibility and integrity black men have displayed toward their families and MAN UP!!!!!!

          • Brian

            August 13, 2012 at 11:58 pm

            You have brought into one of the biggest lies there is Most black men are there and welling to take care of there child. Every last friend I have has taken care of their children.
            Are the men that don’t handle their business? Yes of course, but right along with them are the woman that bring nothing but grief to men and come between the men and their children

          • Anonymous

            January 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

            It is definitely not irrelevant whether or not that child sees their father. There are other ways of going about getting the support that is needed, whether voluntary or involuntary. When you watch the news and see all of the senseless crimes that are being committed, especially within our youths, the rate at which these kids grow up fatherless is utterly disgusting. for the most part I won’t ever dispute the fact that many women are doing an excellent job at raising these kids there is still something that is lost in the shuffle. Namely the fathers ability to show his daughter how a man should treat her (which plays a role in a woman’s self esteem) and a fathers ability to show his son how to be a man. I grew up in a household with my mother, sister, and step dad (whom i started to pull away from as I got older)and because my father wasn’t in my life I missed out on an awful lot. I learned much of how to be a man after I left my moms house and went to college, and I learned about how to be a father by not doing the things that my father did.

            I firmly believe that if the father isn’t doing his part that the mother should still allow him to see and spend time with the kid (pending he won’t put that child in danger). Not for herself, and not for the father but for the sake of that kid. If the support is an issue, since he doesn’t want to give voluntary then you make him do it involuntary (the court system).

      • Caw747

        August 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm


    • Jeanine

      August 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Statements such as these so anger me. This is just a poor excuse as to why you or someone you know is not seeing their child. My brothers ex is not a bad person but when they split with no money he pursued and was awared shared custody. The child suffers when a parent doesn’t do everything to be a positive figure in their child life and NO ONE keeps you from pursuing your legal right except you.

    • Brian

      August 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      There is no smile about that! My daughter has been in the middle of her mothers rage against me for years! Woman need to stop this foolish behavior! But you have to ask the question do they love their children?

  2. Greg Daffin

    August 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Quite true but a true parent will put aside their own selfish reasons and put that child FIRST!
    True parent….child producer…..there is a difference. A TP will realize its not about them anymore. Its about that child they should be parenting. Im just saying…..

    • Jeanine

      August 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      This is the point. Its about the child or children. Its really not that complicated focus on the child and not on issue that do nothing to benefit the child.

  3. Nothing But The Truth!

    August 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I don’t know what the scientific or sociological data shows, but based on the personal data and information gathered over the many years that I have been fortunate to grace this great place in space, it is crystal clear to me that when parents break-up, separate and ultimately divorce, Children are regularly and often greatly, negatively impacted, and far too often profoundly devastated! We parents just need to know that when we make the often unwise, selfish, malicious, irrational, hasty and financially debilitating decision to leave the Mothers or Fathers of our Children, we more often than we want to know and understand, do irreparable harm to our Children. In plain English, we do such serious harm to our Children that they will never, ever recover from it in their lifetime!!!
    Invariably, the Children lack the knowledge and/or understanding that when parents separate and eventually and sometimes, inevitably divorce, they-the Children- must not make matters worse by thinking that they should choose their Mother’s or Father’s side. The fact of the matter is that Children must know and understand that they should always stay on the side of both Parents, if possible. To take the side of one parent-the Mother’s or the Father’s- is certain to ensure a long-lasting, maybe even life-long strained relationship with the other Parent. Too often we wound up losing a Parent by pure, unfettered alienation! To choose one Parent over the other would probably be one of the worst decisions of our life! I, very wisely, chose both Parents! Furthermore, each Parent, or both Parents, must be about the business of ensuring long-term Family togetherness by encouraging a healthy, loving relationship with the other Parent. It is crystal clear to me that in order for our Children to be whole, or made whole, Parents must be highly motivated to advance, promote, advertise, encourage, avail, praise, aid, honor, advocate, back, assist and even glorify the other Parent, in order to facilitate the healthy growth and development of our Precious Children! Remember that Children Are Greatly Affected When Mothers and Fathers Separate and Divorce; and oftentimes they are devastated for life!

    • Brian

      August 14, 2012 at 12:02 am

      @Nothing But The Truth!
      Very wise you are!

  4. d-rhyme

    August 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    bogus. This is all from the perspective of an abnormal society. Hiliary said it. It takes a village to raise a child. Period. Blaming father’s and mothers is ignorant and racist white supremacy. Go tell that.

    • T

      June 24, 2013 at 2:33 am

      Fyi, “it takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb. Hillary Clinton did NOT invent that.

  5. Maritza

    August 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Great Info…thanks…for getting it out.

  6. Tawnymarie

    August 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Man oh man that’s what I have been telling my single friends who have Baby daddy issues. It’s not healthy for kids to see conflict between the two of you because it’s stressful for them just like it is for you. If you can’t come to some kind of peace for the benefit of your kid it’s time to get a middle man. It’s just tiresome to keep going through the same BS and not coming to some kind of agreement, make it easy on yourself for the benefit of your kid’s.

  7. Gregory o

    August 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    The truth is… every situation is different. Parents and their problems and conflicts and its affect on children are differnt, the childs personality and coping mechanisms and abilities are different, and the childs support system (friends, teachers, relatives and economic environment is also a factor affecting the childs development and growth. No two cases are alike. Obviously as Dr.Phil stated, and I agree from my personal life experience as a child…”Children would rather be FROM a broken home, than IN one.” My sisters and I prayed nightly to God to kill that man in the other room, beating on our mother. Parents grow apart from one another, and often are ill-equipped to handle their problem, and decide to split. If both parents are mature enough to understand the kids emotional, health and well being is of utmost importantance, they will work together to raise them in a way that minimizes or eliminates the trauma of a broken family. I have seen this done successfully.

  8. Taritaritari5

    August 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Well every time a young man ends up in prison, jail, violently attacked, failing in school etc.

    They sure don’t take this factor into account!

  9. d-rhyme

    August 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Father absense has many causes. War. Truck driving. Death of father. You just maligned and Mis-labeled many many NORMAL HEALTHY ADULTS RAISED BY CAPABLE STRONG WOMEN, NEIGHBORS UNCLES AND TRIBES. Bogus research. Ask Jessie Jackson Barak Obama. The majority of black males in the US. Article is mysogynistic, racist and groundless. What was the real purpose for posting this? Be honest. You are attacking some one person and insulting others as collateral damage? Praising Barak and stabbing him in the back. You are one dangerous character not to be trusted.

  10. Jg

    August 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Well well well…. Being the product of divorced parents, i clearly felt, lived and endured all the negativity that went along with the separation.. Back then THAT WAS MY PARENTS BUSINESS not ours (the children)… Fast forward to me and my two sons now.. Im in a situation where, I CANT STAND their daddy, have been UNHAPPY for the last seven years, been cob webbed for the last 2 and a half years.. And ALL FOR THE LOVE OF MY CHILDREN!… it aint about me no more.. They are two black young men who NEED their father…WHETHER I NO LONGER LOVE him or not!.. ITS THE SACRIFICE i will make for them to continue to not want for A DAMN thing… Daddys pockets are long and our white counterparts have been doing it for years…. So i may as well just suck it up, and take it WITH NO VASELINE!.. At least until they leave home…. #lovedontlivehereanymore

  11. d-rhyme

    August 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Wow. White makes it right. White people do it so it must be good. You are kidding right? I do hope you are white spouting such racist BS.

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