Your Child and Your Divorce: Navigating Co-Parenting and Communication

Going through the divorce process can certainly be stressful for anyone. Emotions are often extremely high and negative things can be said that one may or may not really mean.  For parties with children who are going through this  process, it is very important not to involve the children in all of the “stuff” that is occurring.

That is often easier said than done. I get that. I really do BUT hear me out. A child is just that – a child. He or she is not an adult, and does not need to see or hear all the “adult things” going on in the divorce process. Your child definitely does not need to be making adult decisions related to the divorce.  Do your best not involve him or her.

Communications involving a child should be between the adult parents and the child should not know of proposed plans  or decisions prior to those things being discussed and decided between the parents.  That, in part, is known as co- parenting.

While it may not be easy to co- parent and communicate through the divorce process, and in fact, may be extremely difficult, the importance of not involving the child cannot be stressed enough.  Very often people divorce because, frankly, they no longer like each other and do not wish  to “deal” with each other any further.  Having children together makes that pretty much impossible.  That said, the good news is that there are qualified individuals who can help parents with this.  A therapist can be a valuable asset, whether it be for parent or child.  Do not be afraid to involve one or more,  as needed. It is very important that both parents are able to communicate about what the child needs, when the child needs it, and not rely on the child to inform them of changes in the parenting schedule, or of new significant others, etc.

As a parent you really owe it to your child to allow him or her to be a child, even in and especially throughout the divorce process.  Negatively speaking about the other party in front of your child does nothing to help foster the relationship between the child and other parent, and in fact, can damage it for years to come.

Divorce is certainly a life-changing event for the parties, and often brings about negativity, but it really does not have to be the case for the child.  I encourage my clients to work toward making this transition easier on everyone involved, especially the child, and am happy to help you navigate the stormy waters of a divorce as needed.