When couples divorce in Massachusetts, it can be a difficult time for the entire family. While there are some cases where children and the parents are relieved to call it quits, the vast majority of families find it difficult to face new challenges apart.
Children may begin to wonder about their continued relationship with the leaving parent. Who will they live with? How often will they see their siblings if the children are split between the two parents? One spouse may also worry about the other’s ability to parent on their own, especially if they did not initially play an active roll in the children’s life.
The American Psychological Association points out that a healthy divorce requires communication, cooperation, and sometimes, mediation. Communication is important not just between spouses, but with the children. Cooperation also helps to make the transition as smooth as possible for the children, especially when moving is involved. If the parents cannot come to agreement on key aspects of co-parenting, then mediation is advised.
There are more specific steps parents can take to protect their children during the divorce. One of these is to keep the children out of the line of fire and away from conflict. Disagreements, especially if they tend to escalate into fights, should not take place around the children. Secondly, involving children in the co-parenting process is helpful. They may feel better about splitting their time between parents if they have some say in how it is done.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, even infants and toddlers react to changes in the family during a divorce, although they may not be able to understand it. For example, at six months, infants may suffer from stranger and separation anxiety. Because of this, it is important never to assume that children are too young to need additional assurance and care during separation and divorce.