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3 ways parents can make shared custody less stressful for kids

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Child Custody

When parents divorce, the change in family circumstances can be difficult for their children. Children of different ages may have a variety of responses to a divorce. Some children become angry and lash out at their parents and other authority figures. Others become withdrawn or get entirely new circles of friends.

The choices that the adults in the family make throughout the divorce influence how difficult the transition is for the children. There are ways for parents to reduce the likelihood that shared custody arrangements become an ongoing source of stress.

Keep any conflict away from the children

Disagreements are all but inevitable during divorces. Emotions often flare, leading people to escalate seemingly minor conflicts into major confrontations. The more conflict that children witness between their parents during divorce, the more stress the children may experience. Agreeing to not talk about divorce matters at all in front of the children and to insulate them from any negative emotions that the parents have toward each other can remove an element of hostility that many children find very stressful.

Prioritize consistency

Both parents likely have their own approaches to parenting. Neither parent has much control over what the other does during their parenting time. That being said, parents can still cooperate with each other by maintaining certain shared standards and rules. A consistent bedtime and shared policies on technology use can make the rules for the children easier to remember and follow Maintaining the same rules and standards at both households can help create a new sense of normal very quickly.

Remember that children are not messengers

It is easy to develop a routine of no-contact custody exchanges once children are old enough to safely get in and out of vehicles on their own. Parents can fall into the habit of telling the children to relay information to the other parent. This creates a lot of opportunities for miscommunication and also puts the child in a relatively stressful position. Parents should not use children to deliver information or reminders to their co-parents. Parents who must work cooperatively need to have a healthy means of communicating with each other as well. Parenting apps and other forms of written communication help facilitate a calm approach to co-parenting discussions and can also provide a clear record of the conversations that parents have.

The most important thing for parents to do when trying to reduce divorce stress on their children is to make the children the main consideration in every choice that they make. Sharing custody is not necessarily easy, but it doesn’t have to be a constant struggle for a family either. The right approach to co-parenting can make the situation less stressful for everyone in the family.