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How parents can help children through divorce

Parents in California who are ending their marriage may worry about the effect that the breakup will have on their children. It is important that parents reassure their children that the divorce is not their fault. Children also need to hear that they are loved unconditionally.

Parents must avoid using their children to manage their relationship with one another. For example, they should not try to get their child to talk about what the other parent does when the child is at that parent's house. A child should also not be used as a go-between to deliver messages from one parent to the other. Furthermore, a parent should never badmouth the other one in front of the child.

Children need to be able to express their emotions. Sometimes, those emotions may be negative and may arise in the form of acting out. Parents should realize that a child behaving badly is demonstrating a need for support.

Ultimately, parents must realize that as long as the children are minors, it will be necessary for them to continue to co-parent. They don't have to remain friends, but they must be able to cooperate on matters related to raising their child. Children also need to feel open about contacting a parent if they are at the other parent's house.

During the actual divorce, it is necessary for parents to do all these things while they are going through the process of negotiating child custody, visitation and support. Parents may be able to negotiate out of court, and this might lead to smoother co-parenting after the divorce since parents will have reached a decision cooperatively. However, if litigation occurs, even if the other parent is difficult and the process becomes very emotional, it is important for both parents to avoid exposing the child to these conflicts.

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