From birth, children rely upon their parents for nearly everything. From making a bottle to quiet a hungry baby to helping with algebra homework, a parent’s job is to love, nourish and teach a child. As any parent can attest, at times, being a parent can be extremely difficult. This is especially the case for parents who are faced with the emotional, mental and financial challenges that frequently accompany divorce.
When a couple with children decides to divorce, the focus must shift from marital strife to making the divorce process and life from here on out as easy and painless as possible for shared children. In theory this makes sense. A child should always remain a parent’s number one priority. In reality, however, dealing with divorce and matters related to child custody are a lot more complex and difficult than many parents anticipate and a child’s emotional needs may become secondary to a parent’s own emotional pain and suffering.
Divorcing parents should take note that their behavior and approach to divorce and ensuing child custody issues will largely determine how a child reacts and adjusts. If a child sees mom or dad upset and yelling, he or she is likely to also feel upset and model such behavior. A child needs to know that they are safe and that things will be ok. When a parent fails to keep feelings of anger or sadness in check, a child is likely to feel confused, scared and insecure.
Children of all ages look to their parents to provide examples of how to behave and deal with conflict and difficult situations. Divorcing or divorced parents should do their best to remain civil and, for the sake of shared children, work towards developing an effective co-parenting relationship.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Lessons: 8 Critical Choices in Making a Positive Split,” John McElhenney, Aug. 5, 2014