When parents with two or more children divorce, they may feel some sense of relief that their children have siblings to talk to and share the experience with. Indeed, in some ways, the experience can feel less lonely and stressful than it might for an only child.
However, parental divorce can also exacerbate sibling rivalries. There are a number of reasons for this.
For example, parents may have less time overall to spend with their kids — particularly as they’re going through the divorce as well as dealing with finding a new place to live, getting a job and myriad other changes. That can leave kids competing for their parents’ attention when they may need it the most.
Parents can help prevent this by working to spend one-on-one time with each child. It’s essential to find out how each is coping with the divorce. The child who’s most in need of reassurance may be the one least likely to ask for attention.
By making time with your kids a priority, you can help ease their stress and anxiety. These two things, if not dealt with, can only worsen tensions between siblings and lead to greater conflict.
Mutual blame can also increase tensions among siblings during divorce. It’s not uncommon for kids to feel some level of responsibility for their parents’ break-up. However, when they have siblings, they may turn that blame on each other — especially if they consider themselves the “good” kid and their sibling a troublemaker or perhaps has special needs or challenges that they have seen cause conflict in their parents’ relationship.
All parents — no matter how many kids they have — need to make sure their kids understand that the break-up has nothing to do with them. Parents might have to reiterate this multiple times beginning with their first conversation with their children about the split.
As you and your co-parent work out your custody agreement and parenting plan, you’ll need to consider the needs of all of your kids. It’s typically best when siblings stay together as they move between their parents’ homes. However, each family is unique. Your attorney can help you seek the arrangement you believe is best for your family.