Toolkit: Divorce with Young Children

The American Psychological website has links to resources on handling divorce when young children are involved.  The most important consideration is touched on here:

Research suggest that it’s not divorce in itself that most harms children, but the tension between divorcing parents, some of whom repeatedly appear before judges to battle over drop-off times or visitation rights.

One review of studies in Children and Divorce, for example (Vol. 4, No. 1, pages 165-182), found that children whose parents bitterly fight over divorces scored as significantly more disturbed on standardized measures of maladjustment.

“In a lot of these cases, the individual parents ‘parent’ fine. It’s when they interface that all hell breaks loose,” says Matt Sullivan, PhD, a Santa Clara, Calif., psychologist, who works with many divorcing clients.

….”It can be helpful for parents to have someone who can help them work out how they’re going to keep conflict away from the kids, and help them focus on what the kids need, as opposed to what’s going on between the two of them,” says Judge Judith Bartnoff of the District of Columbia Superior Court.

More advice from another article here:

After a divorce, children usually adjust better to their new lives when the parent who has moved out visits consistently and has maintained a good relationship with them.

….The less a parent visits, the more a child is likely to feel abandoned. Parents should reconnect by developing special activities that involve only the children and parent.

Parents shouldn’t speak against their ex-spouses in front of the child because it undermines the child’s self-esteem and may even put the child in a position of defending a parent.

APA also lists some good resources for the children directly, including this book for early school and preschoolers “Was it the Chocolate Pudding?”

book on divorce for young kids

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