Children and Loyalty

Children from about the age six, whose parents are divorcing, usually want things to be equal between parents.

Therefore they need parents to respect the court orders, make custodial time as equal as possible, and make custody simple, without too much confusion and transitions.  When they defend another parents, it is in part, their need for equality and to stand-up for their “other” parent.  They need connection with both parents, each is a part of his or her identity.  Sometimes, they minimize problems in the other home so they can remember the good.  Don’t get in the way of that.  They don’t want to disappoint either parent.  Here are some suggestions to help you and your child manage the shared custody.

  • During your custodial time, be with your children.  This sound simple, but some parents actually opt for child care instead of asking the other parent to care for the children.
  • Help your child with preparation for the transition-help pack, use a check list, remind them of things they need, pack with them, encourage them to take something from your home so they have a link to you.
  • Honor and encourage them to enjoy the time the children are with their other parent.
  • Give them permission to be with the other parent so they do not feel conflict about the transition.
  • Don’t ask them about their custodial time with the other parent and help them understand that each home is different.  Don’t pick fights by criticizing the food they eat, their dress, their hygiene, and their homework.  Instill good habits in your home and support them to be responsible in general, no matter where they are.

Of course, these suggestions are for the normal situation where the child is not in danger or otherwise hurt in the other parent’s home.  Also, there may be instances where the children choose sides either by their own assessment or pressure on the part of the or the parent.  This will be addressed in another blog.