Taking care of the children in a California divorce
While most parents are struggling to deal with the emotional, logistical and financial toll that a divorce can take them, it is important to remember that children often deal with their own difficulties. When parents get divorced, children can experience a wide range of complex, and often confusing, adjustments and emotions. During discussions about child custody, it is important to remember that the main goal of these arrangements is to take care of the children.
It is an unfortunate reality that many noncustodial parents become more and more distant from a child after a divorce. There are a number of parents who either slip out of a child’s life or get pushed out by an angry ex. Whatever the circumstances are that contribute to the absence of one parent after a divorce, it is crucial that a child is not left to internalize this change on their own. Parents can help kids understand that although the family has changed, the child is very loved and safe.
This is not to say that parents should explain in detail the parental feuds that may be contributing to a difficult custody arrangement. There is no benefit to the child to hear every blow-by-blow that ultimately caused the breakup of their parents. However, even at an early age, kids experience complex emotions that make the absence of one parent detrimental to their development.
Because of this, it is often recommended that a child understand sooner than later that one parent may not be around very much. Many parents think that they’ll be able to explain to them why they were gone when a child is grown up. But by then, a kid has already internalized the absence and has likely found their own means of understanding a non-present parent. It can be very difficult at that point to repair the loss and suffering a child has already gone through.
It may be easy for parents to tell their children during a divorce that the breakup is not their fault. The children, however, are often left to interpret many aspects of the divorce on their own. Keeping communication lines open and honest with kids, especially for noncustodial parents, can go a long way in helping them through this challenging process.
Source: The Press-Enterprise, “FAMILY: Divorce the spouse, not the kids,” Mitchell Rosen, Oct. 15, 2012
- Our firm works with divorcing parents who must navigate the difficult process of dividing up custody of their children. For more information on this process and how an attorney can help, please visit our California child custody page.