Happy children: twin boys

Why Shared Parenting is Important for Children

If anyone has any doubts about the value of shared parenting, I suggest you read Andrew Lancaster’s 50/50 Custody Benefits: Why Shared Parenting is Important. The analysis leaves readers in no doubt that shared parenting (or “joint physical custody”) is extremely beneficial for children.

Too often, people place caveats and conditions on when 50/50 custody is appropriate. After reading the Lancaster piece, I’m more convinced than ever that we should be looking at things differently. We should to try to get shared parenting in place as the default and find solutions to any barriers whenever possible.

Let’s quickly go through the list of benefits from shared parenting. Anyone who has tried a 50/50 joint custody plan might be aware of many or all of these advantages.

1. Children benefit from having both parents in their lives

For everyone who believes that children are best raised in a loving home with both their parents, the same principles applies when parents live apart. Children want and need to know their mother and father well. 50/50 custody is the best way to achieve that.

Having a close relationship with both parents allows a child to benefit from the strengths of each parent. They are also less likely to be damaged by the individual flaws of each. Furthermore, children appear to have a deep need to have both parents present in their lives, as evidenced by the often poor statistical outcomes for children raised without fathers.

2. Shared parenting boosts the average quality of parent-child time

A big advantage of shared parenting is that each parent has a better chance of being at their best when with the child or children. 50/50 custody for example means half a parent’s time is spent resting and recovering from child caring duties.

When each visit comes around, a co-parent should be feeling prepared, energetic and eager to see their child. That’s much better than, as may happen with sole custody, a parent is often feeling tired and burnt out.

A child in a shared parenting arrangement must surely feel at least as loved as one who sees the same parents routinely day in and day out. The child’s experience may be of seeing parents who always seem happy to have him or her around.

3. Advantage of having 2 homes

The children of separated parents are a little privileged in the sense that they have 2 homes. That means they have 2 bedrooms, twice as many living rooms, 2 neighborhoods, maybe a pool at one home and a games room at the other. They also live with more people.

Hopefully, separated parents aren’t impoverished by expensive family law proceedings. It also helps if parents re-partner with people who can help contribute financially. But, generally speaking, a child with co-parents will normally be better off living across their 2 homes than a child living in sole custody in one.

4. Benefit of parents who try harder

Mother with two young children

Just about every parent hopes to fulfill their role as a mother or father to the best of their ability. But some competitive incentives can still help. Another advantage of shared parenting is that parents compete with one another to provide the best experience for their child or children.

Why does this competition exist? In short, because children are regularly moving between homes. Neither parent wants to be in a position where your child is consistently a little disappointed to be arriving at your place and happy to be leaving.

5. Shared parenting boosts living standards

Shared parenting boosts child living standards by giving a child exposure to the lifestyles of both parents. As well, joint physical custody allows both parents to work full-time.

If anyone thinks child support is a good financial alternative to shared parenting, they need their head read. Child support creates a race to the bottom. By setting up an unhealthy financial relationship, you get behavior such as parents reducing incomes and fighting to dominate custody.

Children with shared residence tended to have more resources than those living with one custodial parent. This is in line with some previous studies.

Fransson et al

Another thing about shared parenting is that you guarantee that a child spends a good amount of time with the higher-earning parent. That is usually not the case with sole custody, especially since custodial parents often find it difficult to work full-time.

6. Children continue to benefit after they grow up

Shared parenting provides a lifelong advantage compared to sole custody. A “child” is likely continue benefit from the financial resources of both parents after reaching adulthood. An involved father, for example, is more likely to help their son or daughter with things like college expenses and a first-home deposit.

Furthermore, shared parenting helps ensure a child builds and maintains strong relationships with both sides of their family. Family connections matter and shared parenting, especially when combined with cooperative parenting, is clearly the best way to support them after parents separate or divorce.