Minimizing the Pain for Children During the Divorce Process
Parents often see their children upset, angry, withdrawn, and/or tearful after weekend visitation. They believe after such a negative and painful reaction by their children, they should stop seeing the child due to the fact that they are unable to stand it any longer.
The truth is, it is natural for children to not want to leave a parent, especially when they don’t see that parent very often. As painful as it may be, the recommendation is to see that child more often and reassure them that they will be seeing each other again soon. Children gradually get used to these separations and will never get over parents ceasing contact all together.
Parents are often hostile toward each other during divorce procedures due to wanting to get even or feeling threatened and unwilling to share. These parents can’t help the way they feel, but can help the way they behave. Their children’s lives will end up shortchanged if they allow their emotions to rule their actions.
The result of prolonged parental conflict can seriously undermine a child’s security and trust in their parents, in themselves, and in their future. This deep mistrust causes them to have a life where happiness and satisfaction does not exist in childhood or adulthood.
Getting off to a good start with co-parenting interactions shortly after a separation is essential. Parents should see that it is their responsibility to make every effort to work together and correct any bad situation. If not, it will continue to not only affect their lives, but also the lives of their children.
Source: Bienefeld, F., Williams, F., Helping Your Child Through Your Divorce. (1995). Hunter House Inc., Alameda, CA.
Note: Mediation can be a good alternative to litigation as parents decide what is best for their future co-parenting structure and the needs of their children. Mediation is a much quicker process that puts the decisions in the hands of the parents with assistance and facilitation from the mediator if necessary.