Divorce is a difficult time for children, but parents can help them adjust in a number of ways. It is important to talk to children about the situation. Even young children will know something is wrong if one parent moves into a separate bedroom or out of the house. Children should be allowed to ask questions and process their emotions as needed. In some cases, children may be reluctant to open up about their feelings. Parents should check in and keep the conversation going. Children may deal with grief in a variety of ways, and if it is too much for parents to handle, they might want to consider consulting a therapist to help children work through their emotions.
The emotions of parents matter as well. Self-care is essential in order to provide children with the care they need. Children need reassurance that they are not the cause of the divorce and need to have as much stability as possible.
How parents conduct themselves and relate to one another is also important. Flexibility as things go wrong may be necessary to reduce conflict, and parents should not speak negatively about one another. Parents should also not use children as messengers or to manipulate the other parent.
Even in a high-conflict divorce, parents might be able to put aside their differences and approach a custody arrangement with the best interests of the children in mind. If parents cannot negotiate a custody agreement and the decision must be made by a judge, the judge may look unfavorably on a parent's lack of willingness to cooperate. Parents who have genuine concerns about the other parent's fitness because of issues such as domestic violence, a potential abduction or substance abuse may want to raise those issues in the child custody hearing.