While divorce changes the dynamics of a family, it does not end the family. Research shows that parents are in the best position to enhance a child’s resilience during and after the divorce process, or conversely, to put their child more at risk.
If you are going through a divorce, what can you do to increase your child’s resilience?
- Allow your child to love both parents. Perhaps the single most important thing is to support your child’s relationship with the other parent. A child who has a healthy, solid relationship with both parents after they divorce is a child with a good foundation for a healthy and successful adulthood.
- Seek out resources to help you manage high emotions and maintain civility with your former spouse. Almost all divorces involve some degree of rancor, bitterness and hostility. But parents who find a neutral venue where they can express these feelings (such as with a mental health professional or in the mediation and collaborative processes) and who can remain cordial and constructive in their child’s presence will be giving that child a great gift. Protection from parental conflict is a strong predictor of a good outcome for a child of divorce.
- Focus on what is in your children’s best interest when making co-parenting decisions. Children thrive when their parents are able to work out flexible, co-operative parenting arrangements that address the needs of both parents as well as the children.
- Support relationships with your child’s extended family. When a child feels that his or her family is being broken up, the impact can be buffered by strong relationships with siblings, extended family, and neighbors and friends. Work with your spouse to support these relationships.
If you are contemplating divorce and have questions about how to minimize the impact of divorce on your children, please contact one of our family lawyers at 202-466-8960.