Working to get custody of your child can be stressful for everyone involved, but it can also be hard on the child. The time of indecision and the reduced security of parenthood can make it a troubling emotional time. As a parent fighting for custody, there are some things you can do to help your child manage the stress.
1. Focus on your relationship
It's too easy to allow the distraction of court dates and the time meeting with lawyers to cut into the time you have to spend with your child. However, the more time you spend with them, the more secure they will feel about the upheaval. Schedule time together. If you have visitation hours, make them a priority and don't miss visits. Call your child on the phone if they do not live with you, send encouraging cards and letters, and attend important events like sports games, music performances, and dance recitals.
2. Stay positive, even about the other parent
Try not to speak badly of the other parent when you're working toward gaining sole or partial custody. Children often have complex loving feelings toward both parents, and it can be hard for them to hear things that make them think they need to be loyal to one parent or the other. They have a desire to please, and they do not see things from an adult perspective. For example, a child doesn't see that a father is not providing child support or that a mother prioritizes her work overtime with children. They often see more positives than negatives and can be confused by arguments for or against loyalty based on adult logic.
3. Keep their schedules consistent as much as possible
Try not to interrupt your child's regular schedule. Try to keep everything as consistent as you can, including babysitters homes, daycare times, and even after school activities. Children feel more in control if they have something they can count on. If possible, work the custody agreement in a way that provides the least upheaval possible to your child.
4. Go to counseling
Finally, it can be helpful for a child to speak with a counselor about the changes in the family. Your child may not know how to speak to you about some of their fears, but speaking to a professional can help your child have an outlet for some of the stress they might feel.
Contact your local child custody attorney for more information and assistance.