Helping children through the pain of divorce and shared parenting

Divorce is usually hard on children. Parents may help them heal by treating each other respectfully and reassuring children they are loved by both parents.

The days of staying in a marriage for the sake of the children are, for the most part, long past. Today, many people in Colorado and elsewhere realize that it can be harmful for children to see their parents being miserable in a bad marriage. They may wish to bring them up in an environment where there is less fighting, even if it means that both parents no longer live together. Couples also realize that it is unhealthy for themselves to remain in unhappy marriages.

Even so, the end of a marriage is usually devastating for children. The family dynamic that they have always known has suddenly shattered, and they must get accustomed to a new "normal" of both parents living in separate houses, as well as spending time going from house to house. They may feel as if they do not have a permanent home, and can also feel like they have to pick sides as to which parent is the better one. When both parents cooperate with each other and consider the emotional and physical needs of their children first, it can go a long way toward helping the children heal from the pain of the divorce and have a healthy relationship with each parent.

How children process divorce

According to Web MD, children go through a grieving process during a divorce that usually varies, based on their age. Younger children may think that the divorce was their fault, and they could regress. A child who is no longer in diapers may begin wetting the bed again, and become clingier with parents. Older children, however, tend to act out by being angry with their parents and becoming more independent. They might suffer in school and develop social problems. It is also possible for older children to understand the reasons for their parents' divorce and to support the decision, although it still is not likely to be easy for them to adjust.

Getting along for the sake of the children - in separate homes

It is imperative for parents to try to get along with each other after the divorce, states Kids Health. If the parenting arrangements call for shared custody, both parents should present a united front and remain civil to each other when the children are near. This may be done in the following ways:

  • Never bad-mouthing the other parent to the children or in front of the children to other adults
  • Not using children as a go-between to communicate messages or to report on what the other parent is doing
  • Not complaining about the other parent where the children can hear, such as airing grievances about child support or different parenting methods
  • Including each other in school activities, family events and other situations involving the children whenever possible
  • Treating each other with respect and, if unable to become friends, at least cooperating for the well-being of the children
  • Not over-stepping one's bounds when it comes to the custody agreement, such as withholding the other parent's time from the children or trying to change visitation at the last minute

It is also important to reassure children that both parents still love them after the divorce, and always will. An experienced family law attorney in Fort Collins may be able to help parents navigate this difficult time.