As a kid in a 50-50 shared custody arrangement, what helped, or would have helped, you go through it?
May I weigh in here, even though I’m not a child of divorce? I’m a divorce lawyer.
Know from the outset that my comments do not apply to parents who are shamelessly abusive or neglectful. If you are being abused or neglected, get help sooner than later. Even if your parent(s) eventually get better, you’re not obligated to suffer abuse or neglect as part of your parents’ divorce. You will suffer the normal consequences of divorce (and they can be gut-wrenching for some), but chronic abuse and neglect isn’t a normal consequence you are expected to suffer.
One thing I ask children going through divorce is please keep an open mind about maintaining a relationship with parents. Please don’t write them off.
If you have one parent or both parents trying to convince you that the other parent is a good for nothing bum, ask yourself whether that parent’s opinion squares with your experience, and if it doesn’t, the parent trying to persuade you to feel otherwise is likely afraid that your love for the other parent means losing your love. Kids, loving your parents (even the best parents) is work, and unfortunately the work gets harder when your parents divorce. But working at loving your parents is worth it. Whether you believe it or not, you need them (and they desperately want to be a force for good in your lives, even if they don’t love—or even if they just can’t or won’t get along with—each other).
Don’t be afraid to tell your parent(s) that you won’t permit them to enlist or drag you into disputes between the parents or into campaigns to alienate you and your love from a parent. If your parents are more interested in seeing you as an ally in a war between the parents, and if you need someone to whom you can vent and from whom you can seek advice and encouragement, please talk to someone you can trust to help see things clearly, hopefully, and in your best interest.
Unfortunately, family members—who are normally your first line of defense when times are hard—aren’t the best people to talk to when your parents are trying to draw you into the fight. Talk to your best friend and/or to a friend’s parent, if you feel that parent is a good, caring person with good judgment. Likewise, you may want to talk to a trusted religious leader, a coach, or school counselor or teacher. They are usually happy to help you in situations like these. Just make sure they understand the importance of keeping your confidences before you open up to them.