How to ensure your child has a good life during and after your divorce.
When two parents separate—whatever the reason—the child or children from that relationship are suddenly faced with the massive challenge of living in two different homes. Emery (Psychology and Director, Center for Children, Families, and the Law/Univ. of Virginia; The Truth about Children and Divorce, 2004, etc.) provides guidelines on how to make sure the child’s needs and wants are taken care of, regardless of whether it seems fair to the parents. Using ample research and his own experiences, the author shows how the child must come first in any divorce, with each parent supporting the child by giving him or her a safe environment, unconditional love, consistent discipline, and minimal exposure to parental conflicts. He discusses what joint custody really represents from the perspective of the child—this often does not mean an equal number of hours spent with each parent. The concept of 50/50 custody doesn’t take into account the child’s desires and need to spend time with the parent he or she feels most comfortable around. From infancy through the early school years and into the teens, Emery identifies specific situations for each age level and gives parents the necessary tools to negotiate so that the child always comes first. Whether the issue is breast-feeding, finding the right school, the arrival of new stepparents, or the long distances children sometimes travel in order to see each parent, the author analyzes the arguments each parent might present. Although his delivery is a bit repetitive, Emery’s assessment of divorce and its effects on children is spot-on. Parents faced with divorce would do well to bring Emery’s book to the table at the next mediation session.
Research and common sense back solid strategies that allow children to navigate the ups and downs of divorce with minimal damage.