Child Custody – Don’t Lose Your Kids in the Divorce

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH


Before you begin reading, let’s discuss what this article does NOT address. It does not address any legal issues or offer any legal advice or discuss strategies for getting what you want in a divorce. For that advice, you are better off consulting with an attorney. Rather the focus of this article is on the relational aspects of child custody, the importance of not losing your relationship with your kids and the dangers of losing who your kids are as a result of the divorce.

Relationships are an important part of our lives. Relationships begin when we are born, whether good or bad, and continue through childhood into adulthood. Good relationships strengthen our relationship with others, with ourselves, and with God and have a lasting positive effect. Conversely bad relationships, especially in childhood, tend to have a ripple effect on adulthood negatively affecting our relationships with other, with ourselves, and with God.

A divorce can bring out the worst in people as a union is divided into two separate parts, with each part ending less whole then when the union began. For kids who base their sense of security on the union, this can be devastating. The relationships they trust are now broken and they are unsure of how the new relationship will function.

Child-Custody Relationship. Whatever the agreement, your child will have a new routine. Even if they remain in the same house, the absence of the other parent is new to them. Helping your child to adjust to the routine and custody arrangement is your responsibility, not the child’s. Explain the routine without becoming emotional, blaming the other parent, or causing any tension during the transitions. If you could not get along with your ex during your marriage, this is the time to learn to cooperate for your child’s sake.

Child-Parent Relationship. Regardless of the custody arrangements, your time with your children is just that, your time. Don’t waste your time with other distractions or take your time with your kids for granted. Spend some time finding out what your kids enjoy doing and then do that with them. Ex’s have a tendency to divide into fun parent and disciple parent. Resist the temptation to be either rather creating a healthy balance between the two. This will go a long way to solidifying your relationship.

Child-Child Relationship. No matter how many times you tell your child that the divorce is not their fault, they blame themselves. They also dream of their parents getting back together someday, no matter how far-fetched. To help your child adjust, talk to them regularly about their feelings, being open to hearing the hard things they need to express. This will go a long way in teaching them to cope with their new routine and minimizing the self-blaming.

While the lawyers figure out the custody arrangements, spend your time working on the relational aspects of the new arrangement. Having positive relationships is instrumental to healthy childhood development and in the end, your child will be the one who benefits and does not get lost in the shuffle.

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"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2011), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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