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In Consideration of the Youngest Children of Divorce

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The popular media article from Time Magazine entitled Behavior: One Child, Two Homes celebrates the prevalence of court rulings that more divorced parents now have joint custody of their children. Until the 1920s, separating married couples were aware that one repercussion of their divorce is that children stay with their father, being the head of the family. Eventually, the crucial role of the mother in child-rearing was raised by mothers themselves, and this belief caused a turnaround in the court decision for children to stay with their mothers.Advocates of joint custody criticize that the default ruling that children stay with their mothers is based on outdated sex roles that mothers stay home and care for home and children and fathers cannot adequately nurture their children. However, the reality at present is that more and more divorced women work outside the home and fathers are encouraged to take on a more active role in parenting and other domestic responsibilities.The article claims that courts have agreed to joint custody rulings, but most judges still believe that there is more stability for children staying in a single home than shuttling from one parent’s home to the other. On the other hand, recent research reports that there are positive effects of joint custody in children compared to those who stay with just one parent. One study reports disruptions in the children’s social and school life to be associated with father absence. Another found that divorced men with joint-custody have happier, closer relationships with their children and fewer problems with ex-wives than noncustodial fathers.The article contends that joint custody works only if parents can detach their child-rearing practices from the bitterness caused by the divorce. It relates how children eventually adjust to the new arrangement over time as long as the parents maintain cooperation and understanding.