Court officials urge parents to keep kids out of conflict situations
Oftentimes dangerous situations for children arise during family conflicts.
Tuesday NBC Montana decided to do some digging to find out what's best for parents to do if they find themselves in a domestic crisis.
We spent the afternoon talking with District Court officials in Missoula to get some advice for people and learned that the most important thing parents can do if they are struggling is to keep the child out of any conflicts that arise.
Brenda Desmond, a District Court Standing Master, has presided over parenting cases in for over 10 years and she tells us no matter how heated things get, parents need to keep their cool in front of their kids.
“Parents disagree sometimes about what's best for the children and they both may have very good reasons for their views but they need to take that disagreement away from their children,” said Desmond.
She tells us that parental fighting around children is always harmful to the children.
“Your children love both of you and you are a part of them,” she said. “Children suffer when parents are involving children in any conflict that they may have.”
Desmond says she understand it can be hard to push aside angry feelings but at the end of the day, she says that’s what must be done for the kids.
“You can tell your friends what a ‘blankety blank’ this person is but not in the house, on the phone, with the kids there so you've got to figure out other ways,” said Desmond.
Desmond tells NBC Montana if you're going through a divorce and want to make sure to keep your kids out of it, the Missoula Family Law Self-Help Center can be a great reference on where you can go to get some community support. The self-help center is on the second floor of the Missoula County Courthouse.
Of all of the family cases she has presided over, Desmond tells us most parents have come out on the other side as a cooperative co-parenting team.
“I say to parents ‘You don’t have to let that (conflict) happen,’” said Desmond. “Even if you are working with a parent or engaging with a parent who you find very challenging one parent can withdraw and then there will not be parent conflict.”
She says all families are different but with most of the cases she sees, things are only heated between the parents for a short period of time.
“It's very difficult for the adults who are going through the process but you will get through it,” she said. “Most families can get through it and if they get some help they can get through it probably more quickly and more easily for themselves.”
Desmond says to lean on friends and family if things start getting too stressful, and if that's not an option she urges people to find support in their community.
For more information about local programs that can help you and your family get through a conflict click here.
The YWCA sponsors Planet Kids. Other helpful sites include: the Families First Program and The Parenting Place.