More than half of American kids have parents who have divorced or will in the future. How well parents manage their co-parenting relationship after they’re no longer a couple can impact their children’s physical and emotional health — both while they’re growing up and later in life. Couples who choose conflict over compromise can damage their kids’ wellbeing for many years to come.

One of the culprits is cortisol. It’s a hormone that the adrenal glands release when a person is in a stressful situation. Some cortisol is necessary for people to deal with these situations. However, if a child (or anyone) is in a nearly-constant state of anxiety, all of that cortisol can lead to cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and immune system issues, along with weight gain, fatigue, depression and more.

A study this year found that adults whose parents separated or divorced when they were children and didn’t speak to each other had over triple the chance of suffering from colds as those whose parents split up but remained in communication.

While no communication between co-parennts may seem preferable to constant battling, parents who are sharing custody of their children need to maintain communication in some form regarding important things — one of those being their kids’ health. If a parent believes a child is coming down with something, it’s essential to let the other parent know before they exchange custody so that he or she can watch the child especially carefully. The same is true of any emotional or behavior problems a child is having.

If you and your spouse can’t communicate via phone, text or email without things deteriorating into a battle, you may want to make use of one of the many co-parenting apps that allow parents to exchange medical and other information without direct communication.

Sometimes kids will put on a braver face with one parent than the other. Many don’t want to be any “trouble” for the parent they see less, so they’ll hide their symptoms when they’re with that parent. That’s why it’s essential that parents be honest with each other with any concerns they have about their child’s health without worrying that they’ll be criticized for coddling the child or accused of being responsible for the problem.

If you and your co-parent are having communication issues that you believe are impacting your child, your Florida family law attorney can provide important guidance.

Source: Our Family Wizard, “Keeping Your Children Healthy Today and In The Future,” accessed Dec. 06, 2017