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Helping Your Children Cope With a Separation or Divorce

Children may experience the different stages of grief during their parents’ separation or divorce:

  • Shock and denial that their parents are separating
  • Anger because their parents are separating
  • Depression, overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and sadness during a divorce
  • Bargaining, attempting to make things the way they were before the divorce, promising themselves or their parents anything to get their parents back together
  • Acceptance, beginning to talk more openly about the separation and get their energy and interests back

The experience of separation is different for children than it is for adults. Children often lack the tools to seek relief from their unhappiness. And, children tend to blame themselves for the separation and/or divorce because they do not have the perspective or experience of an adult or of their divorcing parents and cannot be expected to comprehend what their parents know.

Children benefit when their parents:

  • Avoid conflict and any physical violence or verbal/emotional abuse;
  • Practice rules and mete out discipline in similar ways;
  • Support appropriate and safe contact with grandparents and other extended family so the children do not experience a sense of loss;
  • Are flexible so the children can take advantage of opportunities to participate in special family celebrations or events;
  • Establish a workable “businesslike” method of communication between the parents;
  • Share information well and provide an itinerary of travel dates, destinations and ways that the child(ren) or parent can be in contact with each other wen on vacation;
  • Provide as much advance notice as possible to the other parent when scheduling activities or setting appointments for the child(ren;
  • Plan their vacations around the children’s regularly-scheduled activities.

Children are harmed when their parents:

  • Engage in physical violence or verbal and/or emotional abuse
  • Cause their child(ren) to choose between their parents
  • Make promises or commitments and do not keep 
  • Question the child(ren) about the child(ren)’s time with the other parent
  • Interrogate or question the child(ren) about the other parent’s activities or relationships
  • Insult or put down the other parent in the child(ren)’s presence or range of hearing, or allows others to disrespect the other parent
  • Discuss problems with the child(ren) that the parent has with the other parent or within the child(ren)’s range of hearing
  • Use the child(ren) as messengers, mediators, spies
  • Withhold the other parent’s access to the child(ren for reasons unrelated to safety concerns

If you need assistance with your family law case from attorneys who are sensitive to your children’s needs, please contact our San Diego child custody attorneys today.

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