Divorce affects children at any age. Fortunately, for parents, there are some ways to minimize any negative aspects of the divorce proceedings and find ways to support their child during a divorce.
Start With Preparation
One of the best ways that parents can ease the transition for their children is to start with thorough preparation. This involves both parties sitting down to discuss things such as:
- Parenting Time and Schedules
- Living Arrangements
- Transportation Between Homes, School, and Other Activities
- Parent Involvement in Activities
- Household Rules
When both parents know and understand early on the terms of their divorce and parenting time arrangements, it not only makes the process easier, but it also takes stress and questions out of the equation. This is especially true when it comes time to break the news to a child. Children like stability and structure, so finding and sticking to a routine early on will help them to better adjust to changes in their lifestyle.
Another way to support your child throughout a divorce is to avoid unnecessary conflict or negativity, especially when the child is around. Arguments, yelling, confrontation – all of these can put a child on edge. While things may not always be amicable between parties, minimizing these things and learning to communicate positively with one another makes things go smoothly for everyone. Minimizing conflict also includes respecting the authority of the other parent, especially when it comes to items such as household rules, scheduling and activities.
Find Ways to Stay Involved
Supporting children during divorce also involves both parents finding ways to stay involved in their lives. Even parents who don’t have “primary parenting time” can still find ways to spend quality time with their child. This can include involvement in extracurricular activities, such as coaching a sports team or chaperoning a class field trip. It could also be just scheduling some time to connect daily, whether that be talking on the phone, texting, helping with homework or enjoying some time outdoors.
Supporting Your Child’s Feelings & Interests During Divorce
No matter their age, children can have emotional reactions to divorce. Parents are encouraged to let their child know that it’s ok to show their feelings, especially if they are upset or angry over the situation. Behavioral specialists and doctors agree that it’s typical for children to have an adjustment period in which they experience different emotions and behaviors as they process the news. During this time, parents may see the following:
- Behavior Issues
- Trouble Focusing
No matter how they act out, parents should acknowledge feelings and address concerns with their children. In addition, each parent should remind the child how much they are loved. In some instances, parents may even want to take the child’s preferences or interests into consideration when making schedules or decisions regarding living situations. However, that shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
The Right Attorney Makes The Process Easier
Finally, you can support your child by making easing the overall stress of divorce by choosing the right attorney. The right attorney can not only help with the initial proceedings. They can also help adjust your parenting plan, if needed. Changes to the parenting plan may be necessary as child and parent circumstances change. Whether both parents are satisfied with the initial agreement, or the plan no longer fits the child’s needs, adjusting is the best way to ensure the child’s well-being when parents are divorced.
Kristen Strieker has been exclusively practicing family law litigation since 2012, and she has a strong background in handling cases involving child custody issues. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment.