Parents who are ending their marriage understandably worry about how the divorce will affect their children and what they can do to ensure they protect and support them during and after the divorce process. Successfully co-parenting together can be one of the most valuable tools in ensuring those goals. When parents are actively working to help their children build trusting, positive relationships with both parents, eventual stepparents, and peers, then everyone benefits.
Parents can ease their children’s stress by reminding them that the divorce happened between the two adults, not between the parents and the children, continually reassuring them that they are still loved by both parents. However rather than just using words, actively working together to promote the continued development and maintenance of the relationship that the children have with the other parent can carry more weight. Children often feel like they are in the middle of the conflict, have divided loyalties, and can experience the guilt of betraying one parent when they are with the other one.
Special care should be taken not to talk badly about the other parent in front of the children. This can be very confusing to children and hurt their relationship with the other parent, which in turn increases their stress and impacts their emotional health. They see themselves as half of the other parent; if they are hearing negative things about the other parent, this can easily lead to negative feelings about themselves. This undesirable result can lead to life-long issues.
As individuals remarry, and stepparents become part of the family, the children will also need begin to build new relationships. Again, parents should be supportive in this and allow the children to proceed at their own pace; let the children be your guide as they decide with whom and how they choose to spend time.
This is also true for children’s friendships with peers, and how much information the children wish their peers to know about the situation going on at home. It is crucial to children’s development to develop their independent social and emotional support networks. Parents should provide oversight while also allowing children the freedom to be children without the burden of adult issues of divorce.
During the divorce process, parents can also seek help from a family law lawyer. An attorney can help the parents not only with the different legal aspects of the divorce but can also identify resources for support depending on your situation. This can include therapists, wellness programs, and mental health professionals, among others. Feel free to reach out to us at Hargrave Family Law; we’re here to help.