California parents might be concerned about how they can protect their children in a divorce. It's important for them to encourage the child's relationship with the other parent. Children need to feel free to maintain these relationships and to express their love for both parents and stepparents.
Parents can help by making sure their children feel comfortable showing both positive and negative emotions. Children's questions about the divorce should be met with honesty, but parents should also be conscious of boundaries. Children do not need to hear details of what led to the divorce or be given information that will cause them to feel divided loyalties.
Parents should keep children informed if there will be substantial changes to their schedule. Children adjust better when they have some consistency in this area, and some may want to participate in making the schedule. There may be times when children prefer the company of their friends to their parents, and parents should support them in this. Building strong relationships with friends as well as parents is important for their emotional and social development. Above all, parents should focus on the best interests of the child. A divorce can be turned into a more positive experience for children when they see their parents collaborating in this way.
There are situations in which this kind of co-parenting may not be possible. If the child is unsafe with one parent, the parent may want to talk to an attorney about how to proceed. A court may request documentation if the parent alleges abuse or neglect. In some cases, a parent may be restricted to supervised visitation or might not be permitted access at all.