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How social media can connect divorced parents and children

Divorced parents in California might be concerned that if there is a great deal of conflict in their relationship, they might jeopardize their child's adjustment and well-being after the divorce. However, a study that appeared in "Journal of Family Issues" found that a better predictor of a child's well-being was his or her relationship with each parent, and that relationship was bolstered by frequent communication.

Parents who cannot see their children as often as they would like may find their communication hampered if they are hesitant to call them when it means having to speak to their exes first. Researchers say that children value online communication methods, such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, even if parents may not necessarily think of these as high-quality interactions. These are often the preferred way for children to communicate, and it increases their sense of closeness to their parents.

For the study, researchers looked at nearly 400 parents and children who were 10 to 18 years old. They categorized the relationship between parents as being conflicted, moderately engaged and cooperative. They also identified elements of the parent-child relationship, including how well the parent knew the child, inconsistent discipline and closeness between parent and child. According to the study, parents who communicated with their children once a month or less knew less about their kids.

Parents may want a visitation plan that allows them to see their children considerably more often than once a month. They might also want to consider joint custody. Parents who are struggling to reach an agreement may benefit from mediation, which focuses on helping them resolve conflict instead of the more adversarial approach of litigation. They should also keep in mind that there is a variety of arrangements that may suit them and their children, and visitation can still give a parent a significant amount of time with a child.

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