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Tips for maintaining close bonds with children after divorce

Many non-custodial parents fear that their relationship with their children will suffer after a divorce. While divorce will undoubtedly change the relationship, research shows it does not necessarily mean it will harm the bond a non-custodial parent has with a child.

Even when parents are going through a hotly contested divorce, they have the ability to maintain a close relationship with their children. A certified social worker suggests that parents should concentrate on the children, rather than the fight they are engaged in. Also, it can be helpful to discuss a parenting plan before appearing in court. This way, the parents have more control to determine the best way to care for their children.

A human and community development professor at the University of California at Davis explains that it is critical for both parents to stay active in their children's lives. Children need to know that both parents love and support them. This professor urges parents to keep the children's best interests in mind at all times, regardless of feelings about the ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Another tip is to choose consistency over fun. While it may be tempting to be the parent who lets the children do whatever they want, the fact is inconsistent rules are tough on kids. It is best for children to follow the same rules, regardless of which parent is in charge at any given time.

Maintaining open communication with children is important. This includes letting children know that they did not cause the divorce. This message may need to be repeated so the children understand and believe it. However, open communication does not mean a parent should discuss everything with the children. For example, it is not advisable to say negative things about the other parent or to discuss the divorce settlement with children.

With some careful consideration and planning, it is entirely possible to maintain a close, nurturing relationship with children during and after a divorce. While the transition will likely present some challenges, parents can ease the stress and emotional upheaval by protecting a child's best interests.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Keeping parental ties strong after the divorce," Niesha Lofing, 22 Feb. 2011

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