While parents are navigating the legal complexities of establishing legal decision-making, parenting time, and financial support for their children, they must also help those children navigate the complexities of a changing family structure.
This can be a challenge, but there are ways to make this easier.
Opt for peaceful solutions
When parents can peacefully settle legal matters, including child custody, through options like mediation, everyone involved can feel less scared and less stressed. Parents can retain more control over the outcome, and children don't have to see their parents go through a messy courtroom battle.
Keep conflict away from kids
Parents should make every effort to fight or discuss divorce-related issues away from the children. This includes refraining from bad-mouthing the other parent in front of them, waiting to discuss a divorce-related matter with an attorney until their child goes off to school, and keeping custody exchanges as brief and polite as possible.
But keep communication lines open
Talking and listening to your children is crucial during a difficult time. Kids may or may not want to talk about their feelings about the divorce, and they may or may not have questions about what will happen after the divorce, but it is important for them to know that when and if they are ready to talk, they can do so with a trusted parent. You will have to learn the art of answering fair questions about how court decisions affect them without crossing the line into criticism of the judge or their other parent. But it can be done!
Prioritize consistency when possible
Divorce creates change, but parents can keep some things consistent. For instance, you can stay involved in a child's sports and extracurricular activities, maintain the same bedtime schedule and routine, and enforce the same rules for homework. And be sure to remind the kids that your love for them is constant.
As this article notes, helping children through a divorce isn't always easy. But parents who can be supportive, patient, and loving as their children react and adjust to a divorce and its aftermath can alleviate some of this difficulty.