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Parenting After Divorce

When a marital relationship ends, grief and anger frequently evolve between the ex-partners. The issues surrounding the ongoing care of children are often entangled with the emotions and stress that the parents experience at this difficult time. The children suffer when the parents are at odds with each other.

When talking with your children after your divorce, remember to say that positive and negative occurrences will transpire in the months to come. Emphasize the positive occurrences. At first, your children may withdraw from you. They may need time for the reality of the divorce to sink in. Be prepared for tears and anger. There will be periods of wanting to talk and not wanting to talk. In short, be prepared for a variety of responses and watch for opportunities listen and talk to your children about their feelings.

Parents should be primed to have feelings about their children’s reactions to the divorce. The number one rule is: do not share your feelings of anger towards your ex-partner with your children. Children possess unconditional love toward your ex-partner. Attempting to dispel that love can cause far more damage to a child’s self-esteem, reality, and his or her ability to function in the outside world.

The way you and your ex-partner behave will have an impact on your children’s ability to adjust well to the divorce, now and in the future. It can be very difficult for parents to disconnect the hurt and anger they feel towards their ex-partner from the need to make good decisions about the future welfare of their children. Important questions include: who will the children live with? How much contact will the other spouse have with the children?

Some parents have difficulty accepting the fact that children have a right to continue their relationship with both of their parents. Occasionally parents will go to extreme measures to use their children as a weapon of revenge against their ex-partner. It is common for parents to disparage each other to their children. Some may insist that the children tell them every detail of their visits with the other parent. In worst case scenarios, parents may actually prevent contact with the other parent by a variety of means.

Usually, once the parents are able to deal with their personal feelings towards each other, anger management can be achieved through counseling or mediation. After all, we divorce from our ex-partner, not from our children.