Divorce continues to occur at a significant rate in the US and Canada and is a risk factor to children’s emotional well-being. Approximately 15 – 20 % of divorcing families with children experience high-conflict and approximately 10-20% have parent-child contact problems not only during the divorce process but for years thereafter.
The stressors of divorce demand extra parental care and support for children. However, divorce is stressful for parents too. Children who are exposed to their parents’ stress and conflict, unable to understand the complexities of adult life, often come to blame one parent and eventually reject them.
The effects of this loss to the child are well-documented. Rejecting a parent puts children at risk for lower self-esteem, self-denigration, anxiety, depression, disruptive behavior and negative effects on their relationships with their own children and partners later.
Courts have been the primary resource for these families to resolve conflict, yet litigation often further entrenches conflict dynamics while increasing stress on kids and consuming valuable resources of both the families and the family courts. Parents, their attorneys and their mental health professionals, by advocating for their “side” further polarize the family.
Overcoming Barriers and its approach stress the need to work with the entire family system which includes child’s vulnerability, characteristics of the aligned and of the rejected parent, as well as external influences like professionals and extended families. This is a complex issue with multiple factors impacting it.
Since 2008 Overcoming Barriers has been at the forefront of rethinking parent-child contact problems and continues to seek innovative and effective solutions to supporting families in conflict who have become part of this impending public health crisis.