Many divorces focus on child custody and child support. The parents jockey to show who is the best parent and provider for their child, and what it takes financially to maintain their basic necessities and happiness. But experts say that the involvement of both parents in the child’s life is crucial. The child-parent relationship should focus on encouragement, support, and open lines of communication. It shouldn’t be a relationship zeroed in on bashing the other parent or arguing in front of the child.
Psychologists show that the first three years after a divorce are the most critical time to preserve the child-parent relationship. In particular, divorce can be the hardest on children from the tween to adolescent years. Some teens might play it cool and act as if they are above experiencing difficulty from a divorce, but they are just as affected as young kids. It’s especially hard as they might not understand how a marriage that has lasted so long has come to a sudden halt. Whether it was infidelity, finances, or a long unraveling, how a divorce is dealt with during a teen’s pivotal “growing up” years is crucial.
“The children’s needs and feelings are of utmost importance,” says Risa Garon, the executive director of the National Family Resiliency Center. “Remember, the children come first when there is a family transition.”
Teens are already dealing with a lot when a mid-life divorce occurs in the family. They are starting to date, worrying about money and social status, and getting ready for big decisions like college. A parent’s apology and ability to encourage discussion when the teen is ready can go a long way to healing the teen’s feeling of loss during and after a divorce. More than anything, this can help a family relationship and the teen’s own sense of self-worth and identity be stronger, says Garon.
Yet, unfortunately, 27 percent of children have an absentee father according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth. Being abandoned by a parent can have long-term consequences. That said, studies show that psychologists agree that a teen can develop in a healthy way with one parent guiding them to be successful, establish healthy relationships, and openly talking with them on a daily basis.
As Deborah Moscovitch, the author of The Smart Divorce, says, “While parents divorce each other, they don’t divorce their children. Children nonetheless are the ones who live out the divorce because their day-to-day routines, not to mention their emotional lives, are so deeply affected by it…You want your children to perceive themselves with their own goals and aspirations, independent of their status as the children of divorce.”
In California, Orange County divorce attorney Gerald Maggio counsels individuals and families through all the steps of a divorce. His legal experience and compassionate guidance helps a parent keep the child-parent bond during and after the divorce proceedings. The Maggio Law Firm is skilled in child custody and visitation, child support, property division and spousal support.
For more information:
The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.
Orange County Office
8105 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 600
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 553-0346 Fax
3750 University Avenue, Suite 670
Riverside, CA 92501