Divorce — even the most amicable — is stressful for children and can create long-lasting difficulties for them. Children’s adjustment to divorce or parent separation is directly related to the intensity and duration of parental conflict; high levels of parent conflict can have enduring and devastating effects on children. (See also Gary Direnfeld’s Reader View: “For Christmas, separated parents should give peace,” Dec. 3)

The ability of parents to cooperate and focus on their children’s needs during and after divorce or separation minimizes children’s difficulties. A Santa Fe 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Children First Co-Parenting Support Services Inc., has worked for 10 years to facilitate cooperation for conflicting divorced or never-married, co-parents. Children First teaches parents how to adhere to the following five principles:

Keep your child out of the middle: Upset at the divorce, parents may unwittingly put their children in the middle of their adult struggles, with open conflict in front of the child, negative talk about the other parent or using the child as messenger to the other parent. Recognizing the patterns and their negative impact on children is a critical first step.

Full story about Put children first when divorce happens via Reader View: Put children first when divorce happens – The Santa Fe New Mexican: My View.