The needs of children should be an important consideration, always. In this timely article, Rosalind Sedacca, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, shares six valuable tips for effective co-parenting following divorce. Acting on them can make a lifetime of difference.
Divorce can take its toll on anyone, especially parents. Many parents feel justified in raging about their ex after the divorce and vent about the other parent with their children. However, the results can be devastating.
Sure, divorce conflicts between parents can get ugly. But too often we forget this effects not only the “targeted” parent, but also on your innocent children! This becomes a form of parental alienation, a serious and complex set of behaviors that are designed to win the favor of one parent against the other. Most often, that parent feels they can validate their behaviors and doesn’t see the harm in the alienation.
Of course, the biggest consequence is that the children get caught in the middle and are often confused by hurtful and disrespectful messages about their other parent. In time, children learn to manipulate both parents – pitting one against the other in ways that are destructive for the child’s socialization and sense of self-confidence.
This is dangerous territory with long-lasting consequences. How you handle the situation can affect your family for years to come and play a crucial role in the well-being of your children.
To help heal your relationship with your children should you be a targeted parent of alienation, here are some valuable strategies to consider:
*Avoid impressing or “buying” the kids’ affection with over-the-top gifts and promises. Spoiled children create a lifetime of parenting problems for everyone down the road.
*Strive to maintain contact with the children in every possible way. Use all the newest technology tools available to talk, text, email, share videos, play online games, etc. Take the initiative whenever an opportunity presents itself.
*Don’t waste precious time with the children discussing or trying to change their negative attitudes toward you. Instead, create new enjoyable experiences and reminisce about past times together that were fun.
*Temping as it may be, refrain from accusing the children of being brainwashed by their other parent or just repeating what they were told. Even if this is true, chances are the children will adamantly deny it and come away feeling attacked by you.
*Don’t ever put down or disparage your ex in front of the kids. This only creates more alienation, along with confusion and further justification of your negative portrayal to the children. Be the parental role model they deserve and you will be giving them valuable lessons in integrity, responsibility and respect.
The effects of parental alienation will not be transformed overnight. But by following these suggestions you are moving in a healthy direction on behalf of your children and laying the foundation for keeping your relationship as positive as possible. And remember: never give up. As children grow and mature they understand more and often want to seek out their other parent to rekindle the relationship.###
Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her blog, coaching services and other valuable resources on child-centered divorce, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.