Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

How divorced parents may help children's adjustment

Virginia parents who are concerned about how divorce will affect their children can take certain steps that will help their children adjust better and avoid behaviors that may harm them. For example, parents should try to present a unified front to their children and keep rules consistent between households. If they have disputes with one another, they should not involve the children in them.

Parents should also not use children to carry messages to the other parent and should not grill them about what the other parent is doing. They should encourage the child's relationship with the other parent. If the child is negative about the other parent, the parent should listen and respond neutrally. Parents should also check in with children to make sure they do not feel responsible for the divorce and might ask the child's teachers and friends how the child is doing. They should keep an eye out for signs of depression and remember that in young children, anxiety may be acted out instead of verbalized.

Parents should avoid badmouthing one another or using the child for emotional support. It is also important to avoid allowing the child to manipulate the situation. Parents should not be guilt into purchasing gifts for the child or relaxing household rules. Children should be encouraged to move ahead with their lives and offered healthy distractions.

Although it is not always possible, an ideal situation for children in a divorce is for parents to be able to amicably work out a custody and visitation agreement and a parenting plan. However, even if there is a great deal of animosity in the divorce, parents might be able to set this aside and still have a successful co-parenting relationship. They might work out a neutral place to do drop offs and pickups or make an agreement to use email to communicate in order to reduce conflict.

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