Taking Account of Children's Emotions: Anger and Forgiveness in 'Renegotiated Families'
Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 16, No. 443 (2009)
28 Pages Posted: 28 May 2015
Date Written: 2009
Scholars writing in the field of “law and emotion” have explored how emotions influence legal decisionmaking. Legal scholars have recognized that persistent anger and conflict is harmful to divorcing parents and their children and have advocated for reforms, including no-fault divorce, mediation, and parenting education, to reduce parental anger during and after the divorce. Yet, legal scholars have rarely focused on children’s anger towards their parents — an emotion that may endure for decades after the divorce and negatively affects the parent-child relationship and children’s and parents’ well-being. This essay describes the literature suggesting that forgiveness may help individuals cope with anger and proposes that lawmakers and mental health professionals explore forgiveness education programs as a mechanism to facilitate children’s resolution of persistent anger toward their divorced parents.
Keywords: divorce, children, anger, paternal disengagement, forgiveness, reconciliation, mediation, divorce education
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