Divorce: What About the Children?

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When couples come for marital counselling, it is always my goal to do everything in my power to assist the couple not only to save their marriage, but to make it better than it ever was.

Unfortunately, not all couples are able to resolve their differences, or rekindle their love. In that case, we work to do everything we can to enable them to separate amicably, honoring the gifts they shared during their years together. If there are children, facilitating a smooth transition for them is of utmost importance.

I have observed many couples, over the years, do an absolutely amazing job of working together to create a healthy co-parenting arrangement for their children. Despite whatever differences they may have had as individuals, they put those aside to create as little psychological harm as possible for their children. This involves supporting each other as parents in they eyes of the children, and taking great care to never put the children in the middle when they have differences.

This is not always easy, and it takes a good deal of maturity. These parents recognize that children love them both, and need to see both mom and dad as “good people.” To denigrate the other parent only creates anxiety for the child, and challenges his or her need to be loyal to both parents.

I have been at this long enough to see some of these children of divorce reach maturity. They are well adjusted, self-confident, secure and comfortable in their lives. They are appreciative of the fact that their parents did not bring animosity and divisiveness into their growing up years.

Sadly, I have seen other young people reach maturity, still suffering the ongoing effects of an emotional battle between parents. They are anxious and uncertain, never knowing when they may step on a “landmine,” bringing on the real or imagined wrath of one parent or another. They forever need to monitor themselves, so that neither parent sees the other as favored. Often it is an impossible battle, because both parents secretly (or not) would prefer that the child be on their “side.”

If you are in a co-parenting situation, realize that how you speak about and deal with the other parent will have a lasting impact on your children. Having parents divorce is hard enough for children. Being in the middle of an emotional tug-of-war, or having to listen to one parent’s “issues” with the other, is both unnecessary and unfair. If ever there were a time to take the high road, this would be it.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.

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