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Helping children cope with divorce

Pennsylvania parents who are ending their marriage can behave in certain ways that may help make it less difficult for their children. They should avoid arguing in front of their children and should avoid making negative remarks about the other parent in front of the child. Instead, they should try to be positive about the child's interactions with that parent.

Talking to children about divorce is best done by both parents at the same time if possible. Children need to hear that they are secure and that their parents love them. Parents might also want to try to time the divorce to better accommodate the children's schedule. This might be summer so they can spend more time with their children, or they might choose to divorce during the school year so that much of the business of divorce can be conducted while children are in class.

It might be necessary to get temporary support and custody orders until the divorce is finalized. Parents may also want to consider family or individual counseling to help children through the process. They may also want to look into mediation because this may be less expensive and promote conflict resolution.

Divorce and child custody issues can be difficult to negotiate, but just as a judge would do, parents should put the best interests of their children first. Parents should not try to use children against one another. Unless there have been serious issues, such as abuse, children should have contact with both parents. This could mean one parent has primary physical custody while the other has visitation rights, or parents might share physical custody with the children spending roughly equal time with each of them.

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