The time around separation or divorce can be very difficult for both parents and children. When parents begin to think about new parenting arrangements, it may be helpful to have a good understanding of different reactions children may have to separation and divorce. Parents should take special care to address their child’s individual needs in this regard. It is also important for parents to understand their own reactions to the separation and divorce and deal with their own emotions so that they can be there for their child.
In the midst of this, separating couples must also find a way to divide family property and continue to care and provide for their children after the separation. As difficult as this may be, parents need to find a way to deal with their emotions towards the other parent in a way that allows them to put the needs of their children first. Putting the needs of a child first not only benefits the child, it is also the main factor a court will consider if asked to determine new parenting arrangements.
Separating couples can determine the best parenting arrangement for their family in a number of ways. They may be able to reach an agreement on their own. Even if they are unable to reach an agreement at first, processes like mediation, collaborative law or negotiation through a lawyer may be able to help them reach an agreement. A well thought-out agreement can utilize strategies to help reduce conflict and focus on the best interests of the child.
Although the reactions of adults and children to separation and divorce vary, family law professionals are beginning to see conflict between parents as a critical factor that influences how well a child will adjust to their changing family situation. Parental conflict includes outright hostility characterized by fighting, yelling, name-calling or even physical violence. But it also includes more subtle behaviours or polite hostility.
Parental conflict may lead to children feeling caught in the middle between their parents. However, there are many things that separating couples can do to reduce parental conflict and lessen the impact that separation and divorce can have on a child. As families face new challenges, they may even find that there is an opportunity for growth and development.
As a child ages and matures they will be better able to make their own decisions about how they see their other parent. Without doubt, there will be times when a parent feels the need to vent about the other parent – parents can take this opportunity to do so with an adult friend instead of their children and come to adult decisions about how to deal with the issue. Doing so without involving the children allows children to be children and maintain a sense of security that comes from having two parents they can love and adore.