How parents can help their children during divorce

Divorce does not automatically mean trauma for children. While it can be a difficult time for both parents and children, parents in California can also help children build resilience during divorce and find happiness.

One important element is keeping as many things in the child's life as stable as possible while the upheaval of divorce is happening. This reduces the number of changes the child must adjust to. Parents can help by agreeing to a set of consistent expectations even if their parenting philosophies differ. If the child is upset by something the other parent has done, as long as it is not harmful to the child, a parent can listen to the child talk about it without expressing an opinion about the other parent. The parent can also encourage the child to talk to the other parent about the situation.

Children may have many questions during a divorce. These questions should be answered honestly as long as they do not put the child in the middle of the conflict or do not involve details that are not appropriately shared with children. Children will also need the reassurance of their parents' love and that they are not at fault in the divorce. Parents who live far away can reassure children that they are important by planning activities they can do together, such as watching a movie at the same time.

It is less stressful for parents and children if parents can negotiate an agreement about child custody and visitation instead of turning to litigation, but even after a custody battle, parents can set aside their differences and focus on co-parenting effectively. After the divorce, it is in the best interests of the child if parents can work out their parenting differences although they may need to return to court for major modifications in the custody agreement.

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