The parenting after divorce is difficult.
Emotions take over without realising it. You are angry, sad or disappointed. You feel betrayed. You might blame your ex for the break-up and for many other things. He or she might do the same. The fight is on. You might feel the need to keep your children away from your ex spouse.
However, you should stay away from the blame game and you should not keep your children away from your ex. Instead, you should put your emotions aside and help your children cope with their emotions instead.
When you blame your ex spouse, you send an important message to your children: your ex is the bad guy. It is poor parenting after divorce. Indirectly, your children will feel they are forced to make a judgement too. To not disappoint you, your children will support your view. But somehow, they will feel manipulated. They will feel that they have to choose between one of their parents. By making a choice they will lose one of them, of course. The thought of losing one of you will trigger all kind of related negative thoughts: I will not see my dad (or mother) again, my dad will not love me any more when I stay with my mother, my dad will stop supporting us financially, my dad will be very angry at me, my other parent will do all kind of things to punish me, like playing basketball or ice hockey. Uncertainty, fear and insecurity might creep into the mind of your children. Blaming each other does hurt your children.
Blaming the other cost you a lot of negative energy. Does this really help you and your children moving forward? Use your energy for the positive things. For setting new goals and challenges for your children and for yourself. Focus on your future and on the future of your children.
Because you do things different in parenting after divorce than your ex spouse or because you have different visions, it does not mean that your's are better. They are different. If you accept this, it is much easier to be respectful to your ex partner. Being respectful to other people is an important characteristic. You give the right example to your children.
Being respectful to your ex partner, you can explain to your children that you have different opinions and visions and that you choose to lead a different life because of that.
Your children should see both their parents on a regular basis. In parenting after divorce it is essential for their emotional development.
Of course, if the other parent is violent or abusive, you should keep your children away from him or her, but if that is not the case, you should allow them to see each other.
Your children need both their father and their mother. They need confirmation from both of you that you love them. Your children need to know that they are welcome at both of your places. They must feel loved and secure with both of you. This must result from good parenting after divorce.
Of course you are different. But as explained above, it is important to be respectful to your ex spouse. No matter what. Keeping away your children from your ex partner for whatever reason sends the wrong message to your children: your ex partner is the bad guy.
Children really suffer if they do not stay in tough with one of their biological parents. There are many testimonials of this. Some children posted their story on this web site: Children's Divorce Stories.
Psychologists have studied why woman parenting after divorce try to keep their children away from their ex partner. There are three reasons:
During, after and even before the divorce, children face many emotions: anger, guilt, fear, insecurity, pain, hope, betrayal, helplessness, powerlessness, relief and more. The emotions come and go. Some of them are contradictory.
Talking with them about their emotions helps them to understand what is happening. They have to see that these emotions are natural. That it is good to have them and that they will diminish or even go away over time when taken care of.
When they talk to you about it, they address their emotions. They will be able to identify each of them and in the end they understand better what is happening to them. They will also realize that the same emotions soften over time. "The pain goes away".
It is also good for them to know that they are not the only one going through this process. Many children go through the process of divorce. You could consider to let them participate in a peer group. There they will interact with children of their age that undergo the same difficult experience. They will learn that they are not alone.
Telling their story in a safe environment, like in a peer group, or writing down their stories as some children do on this web site (Children's Divorce Stories) works therapeutic for many of them.
Parenting after Divorce includes talking with your children about their emotions on a regular basis, staying away from the blame game and respecting your ex spouse and not keeping away your children from their father or mother. All for the benefit of your children.
Return to the Child Friendly Divorce Self Assessment page.
Return to the Parenting Plan page.