Most parents who choose divorce mediation already understand that it is not the divorce itself, but the conflict surrounding divorce, that causes lasting trauma to children.
But even parents who are making an effort to choose their words carefully when they talk about the other parent may not realize that another message is coming across.
That’s because 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal, according to a widely-accepted psychological study. When interpreting feelings and attitudes, people (including children) only take seven percent of their information from the words that are spoken. 38 percent of the information is taken from tone of voice, and 55 percent of the information is taken from facial expressions and body language.
That means that a simple “Your mother will be here in an hour,” said with a sigh, a head shake, or in a tightly controlled tone of voice will likely cause your child to feel the underlying conflict. And according to researchers, an ongoing sense of conflict and tension can affect your child’s ability to solve problems and relate to others, in addition to causing emotional distress.
Parents worried about this can work with a family therapist on this issue. Even one parent who pays attention to nonverbal communication cues can help reduce the sense of conflict that their child feels, which will pay off both in the present and future of the child’s life.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.