Mediating Conflict,
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Child custody – not placing children in the middle of divorce

I came across this article and in my experience as a child custody lawyer, I thought it sound and necessary advice. And felt compelled to share this on my blog as it is a practical “to do” list for parents to review for themselves and with their children when going through a divorce.

The article is “Tips to Help Children Through Divorce” by Dr. Gail Gross. It is written with a child as the intended audience. Although, it would be helpful for a parent to read these tips with the child especially in a contested child custody case.

Your child will mostly likely be angry and express grief over the loss of the family. But as long as one parent engages in positive co-parenting, your child will learn those feelings are not permanent, develop positive coping skills, gain confidence in handling adversity, and that love and family are not immutable but are like a rubber band that can be stretched to accommodate different variations.

There are 16 tips in all. But in my practice as a family law attorney, I notice some behaviors come up more than others. And it is a good reminder for parents to not place their children in certain roles and to be empathetic toward their children’s needs and feelings. I listed 8 of the 16 tips, the numbering remains the same as in the article.

“3. Don’t choose one parent’s side over the other.

4. Don’t become either parent’s protector — they are grown-ups and do not need your help.

5. Don’t become a collaborator, agent or a messenger. Let your parents relate to each other independently.

6. Don’t feel guilty, or blame yourself. Children have no control over their parent’s relationship.

7. It is OK to spend time with each parent alone. You are apart of both, and can love them both equally.

11. Have empathy for yourself and your parents.

13. Don’t try to take on the role as head of the house or homemaker. You are children and entitled to your childhood.

15. It is important at times like this to be able to ask for what you need for support — perhaps, just a cuddle or a walk with either parent, a night light, a favorite toy or a picture or phone conversation with the absent parent.”

To see the article and its 16 tips in its entirety, click on the article title.

Source:, “Tips to Help Children Through Divorce” Dr. Gail Gross, Human Behavior and Education Expert, Speaker, Author. Ph.D. Ed.D., August 20, 2013.