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Helping kids get through their parents’ divorce

Parents going through a divorce in North Carolina may be unsure of how to discuss details of the divorce with their young children. On top of the challenge of creating a child custody schedule, parents also need to find a way to not speak poorly of their children’s other parent, as difficult as it may be. Getting into the reasons for the divorce or insulting one parent to the children is only going to cause harm and should be avoided.

At the same time, parents should give their children a general explanation for the divorce, without getting into the weeds. For instance, a father could simply say that he and the child’s mother or other father are not in love anymore. It is never a good idea to lie to children about the split. When addressing a child’s questions about a divorce, it is important for parents to repeatedly remind their children that they still love them and that the divorce has no effect on that.

Parents should encourage their kids to talk about their feelings, and they need to make sure their children feel heard. Even if a child does not want to or is unable to immediately talk about his or her feelings, those feelings are undoubtedly there and will need a healthy outlet at some point. It is good to be patient and validating with children as they cope with splitting their time between their parents.

Children should never be put in the middle of ongoing conflict between exes. Conflicts with respect to child custody should be discussed and resolved outside the presence of children. Though it is sometimes appropriate to consider the desires of an older child as far as where to live, generally a custody schedule is something that should be worked out between the parents, with the help of a family law attorney.