Archive for March, 2011
икониApril 25th is the sixth annual recognition of Parental Alienation Day. It is a time for all divorced parents to reflect on their relationship with their former spouse and how it may be subtly or overtly affecting the emotional and psychological well-being of their children.
One behavior commonly overlooked as a very hurtful aspect of Parental Alienation involves one parent keeping the other from contact with the children – as punishment.
Threatening To Keep Your Ex From the Kids
Divorced parents can quickly learn ways to abuse their power over the other parent by using the children as a lever. Among the most harmful of these types of manipulations is making demands and threatening to eliminate or restrict contact with the kids if your ex doesn’t agree.
Most all divorced parents have incidents and expectations that cause great frustration or anger toward their ex. But you’re stepping over the line when you make the kids a pawn in your negotiations. Demanding that your ex does something or stops another behavior and using contact with the children as punishment not only hurts your ex. It hurts, scars, confuses and frustrates your children, as well.
Putting your kids in the midst of parental conflict is toxic and has proven to be one of the greatest causes of post-divorce family problems. Children are torn about taking sides. It’s a no-win situation because they feel guilty regardless of how they choose.
Even if your ex is in some ways a negative influence on your children, there may be other aspects of the relationship in which the contact is positive, beneficial and nurturing. Let your children make the decision about whether to minimize contact with their other parent, based on their own experiences. Never let your personal bitterness influence whether your children have a relationship and an emotional connection with their Dad or Mom – unless there is actual abuse that threatens their well-being.
Remember that your divorce is between Mom and Dad, and not your relationship with your children. All children need positive role models of responsible parenting. They benefit from seeing two mature adults interacting effectively as parents for the sake of their kids. Children thrive under the attention of both parents. Don’t deny them the psychological value of knowing both Mom and Dad are there for them, continue to love them and will be nurturing them through the years ahead – despite the divorce.
That affirmation of support will get your kids through challenges ahead that all children face as they progress through school, tackle their own interpersonal relationships and learn how to be positive, productive citizens in this world. Be a hero in your children’s lives. Bite your tongue, vent to your friends, and make responsible decisions you can be proud of as a parent – for the sake of your kids!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is author of the internationally acclaimed ebook How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! To grab her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting along with her ezine and other valuable resources for parents go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
Parenting is never easy. The challenges are enormous. Decisions are rarely black and white. How much should you indulge your children? When do you step in on sibling or friend-related battles? How much can you trust other parents watching your child for sleep-overs and play dates? How tolerant should you be regarding food and eating issues? When should you step in with discipline? When are you crossing the line with punishment? The questions and decisions are infinite, emotionally challenging and hard to resolve.
All of this is life as usual for parents in a traditional marriage. When you add the component of divorce to the mix, the waters are considerably more muddied. And many divorced parents find themselves in the position of questioning their true motives when faced with parenting decisions. What about you? Are your behaviors influenced by your feelings about your former spouse? Are you responding based on your child’s best interest – or reacting based on revenge, spite, anger or other “I’ll show them …” validations for “getting even”?
When your child’s well-being is at stake, this is a question you need to reflect upon. Your answer can have serious consequences.
When faced with making decisions about holiday activities, summer vacation, attending the school concert or neighborhood soccer game, are you thinking first about how your child would like things to be? Are you seeing the world from their perspective for a while? Are you basing your decision on creating a win-win outcome for your “family” – or trying to wield power over your ex to keep them out of the equation? It’s often easy to justify being rude or uncooperative, too tired or too busy to share the kids with their other parent. But are you remembering who is really being hurt by your behavior?
By practicing active rather than reactive parenting after your divorce, you are giving your children the best hope for a happier and more positive future. It’s worth the time, the consideration and the awareness about choices you make. And you’ll be a better parent in the end.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love. For her free articles, blog, valuable resources on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.