Based on research and our experience with many families, we’ve developed a child custody counseling program to help parents help their children.Parents often come to counseling when they have decided to separate or divorce. Many of them fear they are “ruining” their children’s lives by separating. It’s true that even well-adjusted children may respond with confusion, fear, and guilt, especially in the early years after their parents separate. Children who have had behavioral or emotional problems before divorce are likely to experience them after, as well. Most importantly, the more conflict there is between parents (both during a marriage and after divorce), the more a child suffers.
Despite these concerns, children are resilient. In general, a child does best when both parents remain involved, parents manage their own distress without visiting it on the child, and when the child is not expected to side with one parent or the other.
Separation affects children in a variety of ways depending on the age and sex of the child and the nature of the child’s bond with each parent. Parent-child relationships change unpredictably during and after separation.
The separating parents may be surprised at their own reaction to the situation. They may feel intense attachment and dependence on their children. They may feel overwhelmingly depressed or angry and fearful for the welfare of their child or children.
Children may also struggle at this time. Some may act out with tantrums, anger or deep sadness. Sometimes they misbehave at school, or their academic performance may suffer. A child may become angry at the parent who stays with her and idealize the absent parent. Some children may seem undisturbed, and appear to be handling things well. Yet the children who do not voice sadness or confusion may be struggling internally. Many children blame themselves for the demise of their parents’ marriage though they may not voice these beliefs openly.
Younger children may have not yet developed the emotional vocabulary to talk about what they are feeling. They tend to play out or act out their feelings instead of voicing them directly. It’s not unusual for a young child to regress developmentally with a return to bed-wetting or thumb sucking.
EVERY child will need reassurance, support, and times to express complicated feelings. Treatment can help both you and your child get through this confusing time. Prolonged bitterness between parents about custody, visitation or child support is acutely distressing for children. It’s constructive when parents negotiate arrangements rather than litigating them. We know that’s not always possible but Mr. Attryde can help amenable parents develop a viable child custody plan and improve their coparenting relationship.
When to seek Child Custody Counseling
Even when divorce or separation is agreed upon, it’s tough for parents and children. Each will need support from friends and family. Sometimes children or parents benefit from counseling during this time. If you are concerned that your child or children are struggling emotionally or that coparenting problems are affecting you or your children, please contact us for a free consultation.