Child Custody arrangements following divorce
Divorce and separation are especially difficult for young children. So when considering a child custody arrangement it’s important to choose a solution which best supports young child’s development. Finding the right solution and working with the other parent may be difficult when parents are angry or have hostility towards one another but working together is critical to eliminate conflicts of loyalty which can arise for a child if the parents refuse to respect each other.
So what are the steps to find the right child custody arrangements?
1. Treat the other parent with mutual respect in child custody arrangements.
One of the most important steps to successful child custody arrangements is finding a place of mutual respect for the other parent. You don’t have to like them, but it’s important to support a child’s positive view of the other parent. What does this mean? Don’t bad mouth the other parent to the child, and if you have interaction with the other parent, make sure you treat them kindly and with respect.
Inconsistent actions or belittling one another may lead the child to feel they have to choose sides. According to the article “Custody Arrangements For Young Children” published in the Carolina Parent Magazine, “Loving a parent that their other loved parent does not respect, while maintaining respect for both, is a difficult and often impossible task for children.” If it seems impossible to treat your ex-spouse kindly, it may be time to talk to a professional.
2. Find child custody arrangements which increases confidence and security
Attachment to parents is important for a child’s emotional development. A strong attachment, which can begin as early as six months old, helps the child develop a deep and loving relationship with others. It also helps them have the security to separate from their parents with a deep sense love. Often very young children will develop a stronger attachment to one parent, which is generally reinforced by their physical presence. As a child care arrangement is developed it’s important to make sure parents are physically present to help the child avoid feeling alone and abandoned.
How can this be done? By making sure child custody arrangements allow the core parent has frequent contact with young children through a stable home base. Some experts suggest this may only be needed for very young children because older children will not have as much difficulty detaching from a core parent. These same experts would argue that shared physical custody where the child spends half the time at each parent’s house may not be the best solution for very young children and may “pose risks and extra challenges for a child’s emotional development.”
3. The non-custodial parent should maintain a strong relationship with the kids.
Although the focus of most child custody arrangements might be on strengthening and nurturing the child with a consistent home environment, it is also critical to the child’s development to have the strongest possible relationship with his or her other parent. Some experts suggest the typical arrangements of alternating weekends or seeing a noncustodial parent once a week can interfere with the noncustodial relationship because the breaks between visits are too long.
Many families benefit from more contact with visits that can be shorter in length. For instance, maybe the noncustodial parent can pick the child up and help them do their homework, eat lunch with them at school or attend a sporting event. Daily telephone calls are also good.
Regardless of the child custody arrangements, it’s important to prioritize the child and what they need so they are able to develop in a healthy way.
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