By Patricia J. Seaver, MSW, DCSW
Marriages may end but parenting does not. Children
who experience the end of love between their parents
require extra assurance that their parents' love for
them is eternal. Parents should be guided by these
facts and give their children primary consideration
both in parental behavior and as they negotiate legal
A child's need for and right to the best parenting
his/her parents can offer continues throughout life.
This is acutely important when a marriage dissolves.
Children learn many lessons about life and
relationships during the divorce process and from its
aftermath. Mothers and fathers are wise to remain
aware of the emotional and psychological legacy they
are creating for their offspring.
Reaching an agreement about legal and physical
custody, child and other financial support is a
daunting task for both parents. Often there is
disagreement which leads to acrimony and drawn out
adversarial positions. In the heat of these intense
emotions, children's feelings may be overlooked. It
takes a great deal of insight, selflessness and self
control for parents to protect their children from
being drawn into the crossfire.
Providing a loving, stable and age-appropriate
environment involves more than logistics. Children of
various ages have different requirements for
emotional, social and physical comfort and security.
Issues such as communication, visitation, physical
custody, dating parents, school, involvement with
extended family and community resources, affect each
child according to such factors as age and gender.
Most parents work hard to remain civil, cooperative
and tolerant. Many children survive divorce
successfully and adjust well to the changes in their
lives. However, even with the best intent, stress and
discord may impede the agreement process. Children
rely on their parents to protect their best interests
and to provide the best chance for a positive
outcome. When an impasse occurs it may be necessary
to seek professional help.