In this multi-post blog, I discuss how many children born today have the potential to be “Caught In The Middle” of parental divorce. Research suggests both difficult and promising news: Children from families of divorce may suffer painful consequences, and yet children who are surrounded by support and given the skills and information needed to cope with the situation suffer fewer painful consequences. Texas Men Can Make Co-Parenting Work.
How can this be done? Co-parenting is a phrase used to describe divorced or separated parents who are sensitive to their child’s distress and who learn techniques that avoid putting children in the middle. Lets face it, many couples find it extremely difficult to divorce amicably. Typically there’s potential for a great deal of anger, resentment, disappointment and pain. Parents may use children as weapons by controlling the other parent’s access to the children or financial support. They may use children as “spies” or trash each other in front of them. All of this puts children at risk and may add to the burden which children of divorce already face.
Some parents use visitation to achieve destructive goals. Destructive goals are those that are based on one parent seeking to hurt the other parent, to disrupt his or her life, to inflict revenge for past or present hurts. To achieve that goal, the parent may use destructive strategies. This can create an even more hostile relationship with the former spouse and can seriously damage the relationship between the children and one or both parents. Destructive strategies can be deeply hurtful to the children caught in the middle and must be avoided. To avoid destructive strategies:
1. Don’t refuse to communicate with your former partner.
Don’t use your children as messengers on divorce-related issues, such as child support. Those issues should be discussed by the adults only.
Don’t make your children responsible for making, canceling, or changing visitation plans. Those are adult responsibilities.
Don’t use your children to spy on your former spouse.
Don’t use drop-off and pick-up times as opportunities to fight with the other parent. Deal with important issues in a separate meeting or telephone call, when your children cannot overhear.
2. Don’t try to disrupt your children’s relationship with the other parent.
Don’t try to make your children feel guilty about spending time with the other parent.
Don’t use the visitations as rewards for good behavior by your children, and don’t withhold visitations as punishment for poor behavior.
Don’t tell your children that you’ll feel lonely and sad if they visit the other parent.
Don’t withhold visitations to punish your former spouse for past wrongs or to get even for missed child-support payments. Withholding visitations will punish your children, who are not guilty.
Don’t withhold visitations because you feel your former spouse doesn’t “deserve” to see the children. Except in the case where a parent is a genuine threat to the children, adults and children need and deserve to see each other.
Don’t use false accusations of abuse to justify withholding visitations.
Try not to let activities (sports, hobbies, etc.) interfere with time your children need to spend with the other parent. Perhaps the other parent can sometimes transport the children to those activities and/or join with them.
Don’t pressure your children about clothes, toys, and other items left at the other parent’s home. The children need to feel they belong in both homes.
Don’t falsely claim that your children are sick to justify withholding visitations.
Don’t withhold phone calls to your children from the other parent.
Don’t refer to the other parent’s new romantic partner in a derogatory way.
3. Don’t allow your anger against your partner to affect your relationship with your children.
Don’t hurt your children by failing to show up for visitations or by being late.
4. Don’t try to spoil your children or try to “buy” their loyalty or love.
Don’t let your children blackmail you by refusing to visit unless you buy them something.
Don’t try to bribe your children.
Don’t feel you have to be a “buddy” to your children in order for visitations to be successful. Your children need you to be a parent.
Don’t feel you have to fill every minute of a visit with activities. Allow some “down time” for routine activities together, such as cooking or doing laundry, or time just to be quiet together.
Divorce is a difficult time. If you are considering divorce or have questions about the divorce process, speak with an experienced family law attorney.
many children born today have the potential to be “Caught In The Middle” of parental divorce. Research suggests both difficult and promising news: Children from families of divorce may suffer painful consequences, and yet children who are surrounded by support and given the skills and information needed to cope with the situation suffer fewer painful consequences. Texas Men Can Make Co-Parenting Work.