Divorce and Families pt 1 of 4: How does an Infant React to Divorce?

GallowayCollensTOPsunsetREVISEDDivorce and Families pt 1 of 4:  lisa schmidt lawHow does an Infant React to Divorce?

(Guest Series Part 1 of 4, Lisa Schmidt, Schmidt Law Services, March 22, 2015)

Sometimes a new child can push a strained relationship to the breaking point. Other times the divorce was in the works long before the child was born. This first of a 4-part series will tell you how to expect your infant to react to divorce.

Empathy with Parents

Infants up to 8 months old simply do not understand divorce, but they do understand the feelings and energy of their parents. If mom or dad gets depressed or anxious it can affect baby, modern natural baby inprogresswho may become fussy or disinterested. This is why it is important for your baby’s well-being for you to manage your own mental health and minimize conflict in your divorce.

Disappearing Parents

Until about age 4-6 months, infants don’t know that things they can’t see still exist. Young babies also do not remember things for very long. That means that if a parent has infrequent parenting time, even every other weekend, visitation could cause the baby to experience stranger anxiety, which will frustrate creating parent-child bonds. That is why, for very young children, shorter, more frequent parenting time visits may be the best way to foster a relationship with both parents.

Separation DistressReid_Sally_115

Between 8-12 months, infants will begin to experience separation distress during parenting time exchanges. They may cry, scream, or cling to the parent who is leaving. They may also demand that they want the other parent. This can be very hard on parents and children alike. It is best to maintain a consistent parenting time schedule so the infant learns that both parents will be coming back.

Unpredictable Schedule

Infants and toddlers do not understand the passage of time or how long it is before something will happen. So if you tell your toddler “you will see Daddy on Saturday” they do not know HowesLocationwhether they should start packing now or not. This makes even the most regular schedule unpredictable. Try explaining the schedule in terms of concrete events like “after dinner” or “two sleeps from now.” That will help them predict when things are happening and reduce stress and anxiety.

Personal Security

Toddlers are primarily concerned with their own needs. They may become needy during the divorce process and concerned with things like who will cook their dinner or tuck them in to bed. To help them adjust, allow them pack their favorite toys or books so they know those will be available. You should also reassure the toddler that the other parent will be able to take care of them.steele lindbloom ad

Infancy presents a very unique set of challenges to divorcing parents. But by recognizing the developmental stages for babies and toddlers, you can minimize the stress of parenting time exchanges and custody issues for your infant. If you are a new parent going through a custody battle, Lisa J. Schmidt from Schmidt Law Services in Southfield, Michigan, can help craft a parenting time schedule that works for you and your baby. Contact Schmidt Law Services today for a free consultation

Lisa J. Schmidt is a family lawyer for Schmidt Law Services, PLLC in Ferndale, Michigan. She emphasizes client engagement and gives each case her individualized attention. If you would like a free initial consultation, contact Schmidt Law Services today.  This blog is reprinted with permission from http://schmidtlawservices.com/2014/12/01/how-does-an-infant-react-to-divorce/.

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