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How divorced parents may help children adjust

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Louisiana parents who get a divorce might be concerned about how they can ease the transition for their children. There are several things that they can do and should avoid that will affect how well their children adjust.

Parents should talk to their children about the divorce to help ensure that they do not feel responsible for it. They should keep an eye for signs of anxiety or depression and remember that young children may act out instead of talking about it. Parents may need to check in with teachers and the child's friends to find out how the child is doing. They should encourage the child's relationship with the other parent and try to keep consistent household rules and a unified parenting front.

A parent should not use children to relay messages to the other parent or to find out what the other parent is doing. The child should not be placed between the parents in any of their conflicts. Parents should also avoid oversharing with the child regarding reasons for divorce or leaning on the child emotionally. They should also not allow themselves to be manipulated by guilt or by the child's actions. For example, parents should not engage if children insist they want to live with the other parent. They should not relax discipline or buy gifts to placate children.

Few aspects of divorce are as fraught as making child custody arrangements. As painful as it may be for parents to face the idea of having their time with their child cut in half or even less, they should keep in mind that in most cases, the child should spend time with both parents. Negotiating a child custody agreement may set the stage for a more peaceful co-parenting relationship than litigation although going to court may be necessary in some cases.

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Craig E. Gibbs, Attorney at Law
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New Orleans, LA 70131

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