One of the best ways — and often one of the most difficult — for parents to help their children thrive while adjusting to the divorce is to support their co-parents.
One doctor who wrote about “building resilience” in kids notes that maintaining a consistent set of rules and routines across both households gives kids a greater sense of control and security amid the changes. However, he says that if your child comes to you with a complaint about something their other parent is doing, unless it might harm your child (physically or emotionally), it’s better to encourage your kids to deal with it themselves rather than to confront your co-parent.
Even if you agree that your child is right, it’s better to give them the tools they need to state their case to their parent and work to solve the problem themselves. You may give them suggestions for what to say, but it’s important for them to do it themselves. This can also help minimize your battles with your co-parent.
Whenever kids can see their divorced parents as a team rather than two sparring ex-spouses who can be pitted against one another, they’ll likely be healthier for it. You can encourage your children to see the two as united for their best interests (whether you feel like you are or not) by not criticizing your co-parent to or in front of your children.
If your children are angry with their co-parent, it’s best to remain neutral while letting them vent, even if you agree with them. This will also help them learn to deal with their anger and hurt.
This advice applies when there are differences in parenting styles or when you have a co-parent who’s less than responsible about keeping promises or taking the kids when they’re scheduled.
However, as noted, if your co-parent is doing something that is harmful to your kids, you may need to seek changes in your custody or visitation agreement for your children’s emotional or physical well-being.