This is the third in a series of articles on Parenting Considerations during Divorce and Dissolution cases. Our first article addressed parenting considerations from Birth to 18 Months, while the second article addressed the Toddler-Preschool Aged Child.
Despite a growing sense of competence, early elementary school-aged children need very involved, nurturing, and supportive parents. This time can be demanding for any parent, particularly one experiencing the emotional upheaval of divorce and the increased responsibility of being a single parent.
The following needs to be considered in divorce and dissolution cases involving Early Elementary School-Aged Children (5 to 7 years):
• How is the parent involved in the child’s community, school, and religious activities?
• Does the parent provide the child with time and a place to do homework, as well as provide assistance when needed?
• Does the parent communicate with teachers, coaches, and leaders?
• How does the parent handle academic difficulties that may require assessment, intervention, financial resources, and individual help?
• Does the parent model and reinforce important social skills, such as communication, problem solving, empathy, and conflict resolution?
• Does the parent arrange for the child to visit friends and have friends over?
• Does the parent demonstrate flexibility in the designated time with the child when the child has important peer activities and events, such as a birthday party?
• If the parent is working outside the home, has he or she arranged for before and after school care?
• Knowing a child of this age experiences loyalty conflicts, how does the parent assure the child of a loving relationship with the other parent?
• Has the parent attended a research-based parenting skills program?
• If parent is diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder or psychiatric disorder, has he or she sought treatment?
• If so, what has been the outcome of the treatment?
Without parental support, children of this age can miss social opportunities to interact with peers and/or lack the structure needed to meet the increased expectations of elementary school.