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Divorce and parenting: Marriages end. Families don’t.

Posted November 2009. Filed under Children

A friend of mine told me about a friend of hers, a child of divorce who said, ‘I don’t come from a broken home. I come from two wonderful homes.’ She grew up feeling that things were better, not worse, after her parents divorced. She had a strong family, not a damaged one.

Those parents knew that ending a marriage does not end a family. It takes time and work but it is possible for parents to raise kids who come from two great families. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

Give your kids credit. Children are amazingly resilient and fully capable of perceiving their families as intact— even if their mothers and fathers are no longer married and do not live in the same household. The important thing is that kids see their mother and their father still being their parents and working together for their wellbeing.

Give yourself credit. When you think about it, you know you can consider your child’s need for the other parent without thinking it means she needs you less. Likewise, you can get through the difficult moments of change that arise as you rearrange schedules and responsibilities. Many parents find that their relationships with children keep changing anyway as kids grow. Parents who can roll with those punches can also grow into the adjustments that the end of marriage brings.

Give your spouse credit. If your spouse has been an involved, loving parent, don’t get amnesia. If your children value their relationships with their other parent, respect their feelings. Understand also that Ohio law favors two engaged and participating parents. Courts view shared parenting as in the best interests of children— unless there is very convincing evidence that one parent has genuinely negative impact on the children.

Use resources. You are not alone. There are professional parenting experts in Northeast Ohio who have a lot of practical wisdom about developing workable parenting plans that make sense to parents and courts, and serve the best interests of children. Experienced counselors who understand the impact of divorce on child development can help kids deal with the ongoing stresses of divorce. These resources can help you soften the difficulties of divorce for children.

In other words: The extent to which parents can continue to fulfill their roles as parents has the most to do with children’s sense of strong family security.

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