Child Focused Issues

Child Focused Issues

Child-focused issues related to different kinds of custody/access arrangements

When no violence, shared decision making and shared parenting can work to benefit children in the following ways:

  • children benefit from ongoing, regular relationship with both parents
  • reduces potential for feelings of abandonment by one parent, for which children often blame themselves
  • may help children adjust with separation/divorce and minimize accompanying losses
  • potentially broaden support system

However, even without violence and despite parents’ efforts, children experience a range of challenges when their parents separate/divorce, including:

  • a range of feelings, including sadness, loss, rejection, generalized or targeted anger, guilt, and wishes for family reconciliation
  • relief that the arguing and/or tension is reduced
  • disruptions to routines
  • compromised sense of security
  • interruptions in peer and recreational activities, especially if distance between parental homes
  • feeling and/or being “caught in the middle” within immediate and extended family, as well as with social network of parents/family

Problems for children when violence is present:

  • children’s adjustment post divorce has been linked to the pre-divorce relationship of parents and this has implications for children who were living with violence
  • range of typical feelings may be intensifies
  • may be used by abusive partner in his efforts to continue to control and dominate their mother
  • children may act out feelings (e.g., anger) related to violence now that it is safe to do so
  • may experience difficulties relating to mother, respecting mother, and responding to her as a parental authority for a variety of reasons, including abusive parent’s undermining of mother’s parenting, abusive parent’s disrespect and devaluing of mother as a person, absence of “fear” as compliance mechanism
  • risks to child and mother’s safety may diminish, stay the same, or increase depending on the abusive parent’s response to separation/divorce
  • children’s need for attention and parenting may continue to be compromised as mother focuses on survival issues (safety, resources), court processes, etc.