children are caught in the middle during divorce

What Happens When Children Are Caught in the Middle During Divorce?

children are caught in the middle during divorce

 

If you’ve been through a divorce or, you are thinking about divorce one of your main concerns will be how your divorce will impact your children. Study after study relates to the ways in which divorce negatively impacts children. It’s no wonder parents worry about their children’s welfare based on common information about the subject of children and divorce.

Divorce can negatively impact children but there are ways to keep that from happening. You should know that the impact your divorce will have on your children dependents mainly on how you and your spouse choose to treat each other during and after divorce and, how you choose to parent.

Children who witness conflict between their parents during and after divorce or, feel as if they have been put in the middle of that conflict are negatively impacted by divorce. If you want your divorce to do little harm to your children, it’s your job to keep down the conflict and keep them out of the middle of problems between you and your ex.

You may feel that conflict during divorce is unavoidable or the fault of the other parent, regardless of what you feel, it is imperative that you take the steps needed to keep your children from witnessing conflict and feeling stuck in the middle of two angry parents.

Below are 4 ways children are caught in the middle during divorce:

  1. When parents use their children as a messenger or a means of finding out information about the other parent’s home, dating life, and social activities.
  2. Negative comments about the other parent made by you, friends or family members.
  3. Sharing adult details about the problems between the parents. Details such as information about infidelity, legal divorce proceedings or the reason for the divorce.
  4. Garnering the child’s favor in an attempt to use the child to punish the other parent.
  5. Talking to the child about money issues. A late child support check, a lack of money needed to pay the rent…adult financial problems that children have no control over.

Divorce brings an end to your marriage, it doesn’t bring an end to your duties as a parent. One of those duties is to put a concerted effort into positively co-parenting with your child’s other parent. Below are a few suggestions that will help.

Choosing the parenting style that fits well for you and your ex will keep your child out of the middle:

Parallel Parenting After Divorce

If there is a lot of conflict between you and your ex, parallel parenting is appropriate. Why? Parallel parenting allows each parent to remain a part of the child’s life while reducing the need for contact with each other. When parallel parenting, there is very little communication which, in turn, keeps down the conflict and protects the child from being impacted in a negative manner.

When parallel parenting, parents:

  1. Communicate through email, a third party or an app like Family Wizard to stay informed about issues involving the children. Discussions are strictly about the children and no personal issues between the parents. Use of a phone to communicate is only done in cases of an emergency.
  2. Schedules such as visitation, vacations and holidays are strictly kept. There is no negotiating for different days and times to keep down the likelihood of conflicts arising.
  3. There is a set residency agreed upon or ordered by the courts. When the children are in the care of one or the other parent in their residence neither parent interferes with social activities, routines or anything that takes place in the other parent’s residence.
  4. Neither parent has any influence over the other parent and how that parent chooses to spend time with their children. If one parent has an issue with the way the other parent is choosing to parent in their residence, the court is used to settle the issue.
  5. Parenting is treated as a business arrangement. Common courtesy is shown at all times and agreements are honored because the sole purpose of parallel parenting is to do what is best for your children.
  6. When communication or negotiation is necessary, parents can choose to have a third party involved to witness and if needed mediate and conflict that arises.
  7. Child support payments are filtered through the court or a child support collection bureau to keep down any possibility of late payment or conflicts of over payments.

Cooperative Parenting After Divorce

Cooperative parenting works best when there is low conflict between parents and the parents are able to work together for the sake of the children. With cooperative parenting, there is more flexibility when it comes to visitation schedules and residency issues.

When cooperative parenting, parents:

  1. Parents form a friendly business relationship that revolves around the needs of their children. A courteous and polite relationship is one that will go a long way toward making sure children have what they need from each parent.
  2. Parents are able to talk, face-to-face about parenting issues as they arise. They are able to stick to the topic at hand without becoming distracted by old relationship issues.
  3. They don’t expect praise or emotional support from each other. They realize that part of their relationship has ended. But, they are able to show empathy and to support each other during difficult parenting issues.
  4. Keep all discussions about parenting, visitation, schedules and such to themselves and don’t involve the children. They come to a firm decision, as parents, before involving the children in their decisions.
  5. Are able to, at all times, put their children’s needs above their needs and feelings. Their relationship with the other parent is strictly about what is best for their children.
  6. Are able to communicate via phone or in person without engaging in conflict.
  7. Child support checks are mailed directly to the parent receiving the support. Due to their business like relationship, they both understand the importance of meeting their financial obligations to their children.

Whether parallel parenting or cooperative parenting, it is important to remember that one method is not better than the other. Each method will result in lower conflict and, as a result, better parenting. And, that is your goal as parents, better parenting and keeping your child out of the middle of your divorce issues.

The post What Happens When Children Are Caught in the Middle During Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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telling your children about your divorce

9 Things To Keep In Mind When Telling Your Children About Your Divorce

telling your children about your divorce

 

It is only natural that as a parent you dread talking to your child about an impending divorce. Us parents want to protect and shield our children from emotional or physical harm BUT it is important that you take on the task at hand and do so in a way that helps your child cope with the fact that his/her parents have decided to divorce.

Sitting down and talking to your children about your divorce is the first step you will take in the divorce process. That talk could set the standard for how the rest of your divorce plays out and how well your children adjust to the divorce. Parents who care enough about their child to break the news gently and appropriately will also, more than likely, consider their child in each step of the divorce process.

Below are a few basic points to keep in mind when telling your child about your divorce:

Make a plan that involves Mom and Dad both being present when the talk is delivered.

Make sure that your child knows that he/she is loved by both parents. Instead of telling your child you no longer love each other, express how much you both love your child.

Explain to your child why there is going to be a divorce. You want to give age-appropriate explanations but most children are going to wonder “what happened” and have a right to an answer to that question. Share your feelings with your child and encourage them to share their feelings AND be willing to listen and validate their feelings.

If you have more than one child, talk to them as a group initially. Once all know the news take them individually so that you can learn what each child is feeling and thinking. Each child will respond differently, have different questions and concerns. Each should be able to express their concerns individually in a conversation with Mom and Dad.

How you talk to your child is as important as what you tell him/her. Be aware of your body language, your tone of voice and your behavior when the other parent is speaking. Don’t interrupt your spouse when he/she is speaking or allow conflict between the two of you to color the conversation you are having with your child.

Keep in mind that there is a difference in a child’s emotional understanding and intellectual understanding. They will process the news of your divorce emotionally at a different rate than is processed intellectually. Processing the news will take more time emotionally than intellectually. Due to this, you will be expected to have more than one conversation about the divorce based on your child’s emotional needs.

Encourage your child to ask questions but don’t be surprised if there are none. As the child processes the information there will be questions. Let your child know you are available to answer questions as they come up.

Be able to explain to your child what will happen to them once you separate or divorce. Provide plenty of details about where the child will live, how often they will see the other parent who will be moving from the family home. Your child will feel more secure if you are able to assure him/her that your divorce will not interfere with their stability or relationship with either parent.

Be willing to have the conversation over and over again. As your child ages, the questions they have will be different. There may be many conversations, some years down the road about your decision to divorce. Your child will become more sophisticated with age so be prepared to answer the hard questions that come with that sophistication. You will move on from your divorce, your child won’t. Just because you no longer think about it doesn’t mean your child doesn’t. Give them the right to the answers they need to help them deal with a situation that will impact them emotionally for years, if not decades to come.

Here is something every parent needs to understand about divorce…what you say to your child is less important than what you do once you decide to divorce. That first, second and third conversation are important but, “actions speak louder than words” so the way you parent and the example you set by your behavior will determine what the lasting effects of divorce are on your child.

The post 9 Things To Keep In Mind When Telling Your Children About Your Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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3 Ways to Diffuse High-Conflict Co-Parenting

3 Ways to Diffuse High-Conflict Co-Parenting

High-conflict co-parenting takes a toll on the children and co-parents involved, but reaching a fair parenting plan can help improve these relationships.

The post 3 Ways to Diffuse High-Conflict Co-Parenting appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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What It

This Is What It’s Like To Co-Parent With a Narcissist

What It's Like To Co-Parent With a Narcissist

 

“Imagine every other weekend, your life and family are put on hold, hindered and incomplete – that’s life with divorce and visitation.”

It’s easily one of the most frustrating and difficult situations in divorced families with children where co-parenting is not an option. And, unless you live this life, chances are you don’t understand.

You won. You were awarded full custody and now you are in charge and everything just goes your way, right? Wrong!

First, winning shouldn’t be a term in child custody, and neither should be awarded.

When my ex-husband took me to court for full custody – I was sickened with worry, stress, potential heartbreak, and fear.

Basically, I am expected to go into a courtroom, with a stranger whose sole purpose is to judge me, going against the only person in the world who gains a sick satisfaction out of manipulating, emotionally and mentally breaking me down and hates me for sport. And then, convince this judge in a limited time frame that not only am I a good mother but that I am a better mother than their father is a good father.

That is essentially what it comes down to; who is the better parent for the children. And, one wins, and one loses – but truthfully in our case, one wins and three lose, either way. There are a handful of days in my life that I can remember in vivid detail – and the day I “fought” for full custody is one of those days I still play back regularly.

While that day is not really the point of this post, I will just say a couple of things that are relevant. The words “full custody awarded to the mother” echoing in the half-empty courtroom were the loudest, emptiest, angriest and most relieving words I had heard up to that point.

That morning I came prepared to fight for my life, for my children and I was not going to lose them. Thankfully for me, I didn’t lose them. But, their father did, and looking back now you can see that day was the beginning of the quit.

What It’s Like To Co-Parent With a Narcissist

The beginning of all the “I can’t make it’s”, the schedule conflicts, the manipulation tactics, reverse psychology and narcissism that, we live with today. And, when someone else sees it or hears it, they say the same thing – “don’t let your children go there, stop the visits” and I have to explain that is not how it works.

There are a set of unspoken (but written) rules in divorce decrees that have a trailing visitation order. If you are the custodial parent, you are expected to encourage and foster a relationship with the non-custodial parent and the children you share between you.

This includes their family and friends as well. You are expected to not speak ill of the other parent or withhold visitations out of pure distaste of the other parent. Sports, extracurricular activities, school events etc. are supposed to be avoided if at all possible, during their weekend, and if they do land on the other parents’“time” they are not required to take them – because it is their time. Their time, not your child’s time.

You learn to maneuver around the schedule, and you do your best with what you get.

There were a few civil standbys when the selfish stubbornness kept my children from attending games simply because their father didn’t feel like going in the beginning. Those days sucked for everyone but him, I’d ultimately have to leave without the children, the kids would miss their games/events and he would essentially win.

The officers didn’t enjoy it either, they know the situation, they see it, but they can’t get involved and most don’t want to. It started with school events and games, and then slowly oozed into birthday parties, family events, holidays etc.

The first time I had to tell my child they couldn’t attend something because it was important to spend this time with their father it was okay – but the more frequent they became – the harder it was. And, not because they shouldn’t want to spend time with their father – but because he refused to spend time with them doing the things they enjoyed.

Co-parenting with a narcissist is like being the tin man from the wizard of oz, having motion sickness, on the downward spiral of a roller coaster, with a loose harness, after eating ice cream and 5 corn dogs – doing the tango with a peg leg and an eye patch all the while sewing back together and re-stuffing down feathered pillows your dog chewed up and scattered throughout the back forty – it’s freaking difficult!!

Not everyone is able to join the elusive and all-inclusive co-parenting club, no matter how hard they try or pray. And, people don’t register the impact this has on your family’s life. What looks to friends and family as a minor schedule change, is an asteroid headed for earth sure to destroy life as we know it.

I always love when someone asks if I would like them to call dad and tell him he needs to bring them to an event – as if that would do anything?! He doesn’t care, plain and simple and there is nothing anyone can do to change that than God, and he isn’t a believer, so… ya!

So, what does a parent do when you really have no control or say every other weekend? We don’t. We literally don’t do anything. We found that we stopped doing things. We stopped making plans. We stopped inviting people over or going out as a family – because now someone is gone.

And, truthfully that hindered the weekends the kids were home to because we wanted to be with them, so we would not do anything, ever. Plus, everyone always asks “where are the kids? Why aren’t the kids here? They get out of everything” etc.

And, sometimes I want to scream “NO THEY DON’T GET OUT OF ANYTHING ACTUALLY, THEY DIDN’T CHOOSE THIS LIFE, WE COULDN’T FIX OUR “ISSUES” AND NOW THEY ARE INNOCENT BYSTANDERS WHO ARE PAYING THE PRICE! THEY ARE WITH THEIR OTHER PARENT WHO DOESN’T GIVE ON SHIT ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT OR NEED, AND THEY’RE MISSING OUT ON EVERYTHING AND WE ARE HERE JUST TRYING TO NOT FOCUS ON THAT FACT, THEY NEED YOU VERY MUCH!”

But, just as much as people don’t understand, we can’t expect them too either.

They can’t just decide – there is a COURT ORDER that requires them to go. It is not a suggestion, it’s a requirement. The only way they are allowed to miss or skip a visit is if they get permission from that parent – or go back to court.

Which makes our situation all the more complicated because my daughter did just that – she requested through the court to not be required to visit her father anymore when she was old enough. He will never tell this story because no one wants to say the part that makes themselves look bad – but he had to okay it – which he did.

So, we have one child who is still court ordered and one who is permitted to not attend. Navigate that one…

As a parent, a normal parent, you want what is best for your children. It is your job to not only provide for them but teach the importance of opportunity, achievement, dedication, commitment, work ethic all while loving, encouraging and supporting them.

When you have one parent who is against every part of these – how are you supposed to make it work? We have our children in 4H, FFA, sports, etc. to teach them the importance of responsibility, the importance of teamwork and working hard for the things they want in life.

But every other weekend – it’s a headache. And for my son, every Wednesday too.

My son was excited to sign up for Track, which he has never done, and to be honest, I was slightly dreading it because track meets drag on all day. But I was supportive because it was something new, something he was interested in and running keeps him active – so heck ya! go for it bud!

Then Wednesday comes around and he is gloomy because his dad already questioned him last week if he was going to get his Wednesday visits back now that basketball was over – and he didn’t have the heart to tell his dad he signed up for track. So, now he stands in front of me at 6:30 am and has to choose – either track and telling his dad or quitting track and going to his visits.

Our family is serious about sticking to a commitment, once you start a sport and the fee is paid, you have to finish it out.

But I can’t force that in this situation, so I tell him my thoughts and that I support him in whatever he chooses.

On the car ride to work, I am having a serious discussion with God and I get a text from my son saying he chose to give up track, so he doesn’t upset his dad – and I am equal parts heartbroken and pissed. He asked if I was mad and for the first time I responded with the truth about his dad, “No, I am not mad at you for wanting to not upset your dad, I’m mad that your father has put you in the position where you care more about letting him down than letting yourself down – and I can’t fix that and it breaks my heart for you.”

And, that is the truth folks – we are stuck a lot of the time, and we aren’t supposed to say the other parent is bad, or wrong, but damn it – he is wrong, and it is not fair. But as the repairer, I called his coach and explained the situation and we were able to come up with a plan for him to still practice 4 of the days and remain on the team and make visits with dad.

That’s what we do I guess, we rearrange, we maneuver around and come up with other options to still afford them the normalcy of childhood, opportunities, and a healthy life – even if we are the only ones doing it consistently.

So, the next time you see a blended family jigsawing their way through life – maybe you’ll understand a little better that they are simply attempting to navigate a different normalcy.

The post This Is What It’s Like To Co-Parent With a Narcissist appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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3 things you can do for your children during divorce

Do These 3 Things For Your Child During Divorce

3 things you can do for your children during divorce

 

Do me a favor. For the moment, put away negative feelings you have toward your ex and let’s concentrate on your children and putting them first. They need you now more than they’ve ever needed you before. So, pay attention!

I received an email recently from a father concerned about the impact his wife’s desire for a divorce was having on his children. He said, “Children generally do not want their parents to divorce. In my case, I have watched my two kids ages 3 and 6 cry for hours over the loss of what they knew as their family. However, in no-fault divorce, the pain and needs of the children are of no consequence, notwithstanding the, at times, profound effect a divorce has on them.”

This father understands what many parents don’t. Divorce laws don’t take into account the “profound effect” divorce has on children. At no time during the legal divorce process are the emotional needs of children taken into consideration. We have laws concerned with their best interest when it comes to deciding child custody and how much child support will be paid.

We don’t, however, have divorce laws that are in place to make sure our children navigate their parent’s divorce and come out the other side well-adjusted, happy individuals.

That is why is it is imperative that you, the parents, fully understand the impact of divorce on your children. And take steps to keep your behavior, before, during and after your divorce from hurting the most important people in your life…your children.

Here are 3 Things You Can do for Your Children During Divorce

1. Promote a loving and consistent relationship with both parents.

You have divorced your spouse, your children didn’t. Your children need a relationship with their other parent that is free of any feelings or issues you have with that parent. You don’t like the other parent, think they are a lousy parent, want to punish the other parent for hurting you or, view your children as a possession, something to be owned? Too bad, get over it!

How you feel about your ex plays no role in your children’s relationship with them. This is something some parents have a difficult time understanding. I’ve received emails from mothers who feel since they carried a child for nine months and gave birth, they have more rights than a father. Baking and birthing a child doesn’t mean us mothers automatically love a child more than fathers. Or, know what is best for the child.

So, let go of the idea that you, as a mother, have a deeper bond or you are of more value in your child’s life. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. Boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem.Take that into consideration if you are a mother who doesn’t see the value of a father in her children’s lives.

On the other hand, I hear from fathers who have a hard time separating their relationship with their ex from their relationship with their children. As a result, their children end up suffering collateral damage due to anger that trickles down.

Let me give you an example from my own experience with divorce. My ex would tell our children, “I divorced your mother, I didn’t divorce you.” But, as they say, “actions speak louder than words” and his actions told our children that they had also been left.

For example, our youngest wanted a treehouse. I suggested we buy the materials needed to build one and he ask his father to spend the day helping him put it all together. His father refused to help build the treehouse because, as he told our son, “That is your mother’s property and I won’t spend time on her property.” He broke his child’s heart because his desire to have no relationship with me outweighed his desire to have a relationship and father his child.

Seriously guys, if you avoid activities with your child because negative feelings you have about your ex bleeds over into your ability to father your children…get over it!

Your anger, resentment, emotional pain and any other fallout from your divorce is your problem. It is not your children’s problem. Don’t allow it to become theirs. Accept the fact that your children love both parents and need both parents. Do what it takes to show your children that you are good with them getting what they want and need and work consistently at promoting a healthy relationship with the other parent.

2. Don’t share the details of your relationship and divorce with your children.

This is a simple concept. A 13-year-old doesn’t need to know the gory details of her father’s affair. A 9-year-old doesn’t need to hear how broke you are because you have to pay his mother all your money in child support. When you share details children aren’t equipped to process, you aren’t hurting your ex, you are hurting your children.

Needing an outlet, someone to share your feelings with, is understandable. Find yourself a close friend, family member or therapist and vent away. Under no circumstances should you use your children as a sounding board for negative feelings or thoughts you have about their other parent.

3. View the situation from your child’s perspective.

Your child has a unique perspective on what has happened in their family. Parents can be influenced by their own feelings and interpretations and behave based on that alone. Everyone involved in your divorce defines the situation based on their individual feelings and core belief systems. How someone is affected by your divorce depends on how they process information they acquire from your divorce.

Anais Nin said, “We don’t’ see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Your children are not an extension of you, they are autonomous individuals with their own feelings. For their sake, it is important that you take into consideration their unique feelings and needs when parenting after divorce.

We parents can fail our children when we focus on our own agendas and getting what we want out of life. I’ve often heard experts say, “If the parents are happy, the children will be happy.” Well, that is a bunch of hogwash. You may be better off after your divorce, that doesn’t mean your children think they are better off. Don’t do further damage by projecting your feelings off onto them.

Here is another real-life example from my own experience with parenting after divorce. My older son, through his own choosing, decided to take on the role of “man of the house” after my divorce. Several months after my divorce, when I had started dating again, my son attempted to keep me on a short leash. If I came in later than he thought was appropriate he let me have it. He questioned who I was going out with, wanted to know all their vital statistics. It was like being a teenager and living with my father again!

His behavior was irritating but, it was also communicating something to me. I had to step back from the situation and make an effort to see it from my son’s point of view, his perspective. I asked myself, “Does he really care that I’m late or, is he concerned for my safety and the change in routine?” Once I sat down and spoke with my son I learned that it was his feelings of insecurity that were motivating his need to control me. Once I knew he was coming from a place of fear and insecurity I was equipped with the knowledge I needed to negotiate what was best for us both.

Something as simple as validating and acknowledging his feelings helped relieve the fear and insecurity he was experiencing. We can all glean tremendous insight into what our children need from us when we put effort into understanding what they are feeling and how they view their situation. Give it a try!

I’m going to leave you with a quote from John Lennon’s son, Julian Lennon. “Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world, but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son. How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces – no communication, adultery, and divorce? You can’t do it, not if you’re being true and honest with yourself.”

I encourage you to be true to yourself but, only after you’ve taken care of and been true and honest to your children and their needs. Do that and you will all thrive after divorce.

The post Do These 3 Things For Your Child During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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20 Divorce Means For Those Who Understand The Realities Of Divorce

20 Divorce Means For Those Who Understand The Realities Of Divorce

A divorce wouldn’t be complete without conflict, anger, and emotional pain. However, for those who experienced a lot of hardships and complications in their marriage, divorce might mean freedom and getting their lives back. Lucky them!

If you or someone you know has been through a divorce we promise, it will get better. So, to help you remember all the good times (sarcasm), check out these divorce memes we’ve collected just for you. Enjoy!

20 Divorce Memes

1. Raise your hand if you’ve dealt with this!

divorce meme

 

2. Let’s not hold our breaths!

divorce meme

 

3. Fingers crossed!

divorce meme

 

4. I know one of those “persons.”

divorce meme

 

5. Seriously, this isn’t hard to do!

divorce meme

 

6. Any good mother will make this look easy. 

divorce meme

 

7. Crazy? Who me? Nah!

divorce meme

 

8. Can you say, narcissistic fathers?

divorce meme

 

9. Get on out of here now!

divorce meme

 

10. If you’ve got any damn sense at all you do.

divorce meme

 

11. Don’t you dare forget!

divorce meme

 

12. Those little eyes and ears!

divorce meme

 

13. Head held high and a smile on your face.

divorce meme

 

14. Love yo self!

divorce meme

 

15. No more dysfunction junction for those babies!

divorce meme

 

16. Sounds like someone needs help with the bills!

divorce meme

 

17. When he says no one else will want you, he doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.

divorce meme

 

18. We’re going to harness that power too!

divorce meme

 

19. Listen, just NEVER settle!

divorce meme

 

20. He is her problem now!

divorce meme

The post 20 Divorce Means For Those Who Understand The Realities Of Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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if you abandon your child

If You Abandon Your Children, I Don’t Want To Hear About Your “Father’s Rights”

if you abandon your child

 

A couple of years ago the Huffington Post ran an article the day before Father’s Day that got the Father’s Rights guys a bit upset. But when a woman writes an article about a less than perfect father those guys normally respond with dismissal, disdain, and disregard so that was no big surprise

In their mind, if you say something unpleasant about one father you have offended every father. And, they love to make excuses for deadbeat or absent fathers and that excuse normally runs along the lines of, “its all moms fault.”

One comment caught my attention due to its astounding show of immaturity and it’s representation of how I feel some men attached to the Father’s Rights movement respond to divorce and custody issues.

I had printed out the comment and came across it again while Marie Kondoing my house. It still, to this day has the same impact on me.

“Divorce court is a woman’s court. Your man bailed out is probably just like me, it is far better for the children for the father to disappear than to be used as a punching bag by the mother, courts, society, and in the end, the children.”

Granted the grammar is bad but if you try hard you can make sense of it. Evidently, this comment was made by a father who has chosen to “bail” on his children, as did the father who was the subject of the Huffington Post article.

If You Abandon Your Children You Have NO Excuse!

What I find astonishing is the reason the commenter has bailed. He didn’t want to be used as a punching bag by the mother, the courts or society. I had no idea until I read that, that paternal instinct, fathering and loving one’s children was depended upon a mother’s actions, the court’s actions or the actions of society.

No one forced him to leave his children. Nothing happened to cause him to lose his role as a father. He may have had divorce forced upon him along with a custody agreement he wasn’t happy with but, really, is that any reason to choose to no longer father your children?

It’s like saying, “you people were mean to me so I’m taking daddy away from my children.” The guy actually punished his children by withdrawing from them as a father for something someone else did to him. And, in his mind, he thinks he has done his children a favor.

Why can’t I wrap my mind around this justification? Probably because it is irrational and totally out of touch with what his children needed from him REGARDLESS of how difficult he found it to remain in their lives.

Plus, in my experience with divorce, I’ve known of the inability of the Family Court system to deal appropriately with the issues of divorce, custody and all things related BUT, at no time have I formed the belief that that was any reason to bail on my child.

The Problem With the Father’s Rights Movement:

Their seedy underbelly is too vocal and in being so they reflect poorly on the Father’s Rights movement and men who don’t abandon children for any reason. There is a small fringe of this movement that has declared war on women and children and that fringe keeps those who are truly concerned about their rights as fathers from being taken seriously.

Nothing will change in our dysfunctional Family Court until mothers and fathers work together to change the system. As long as some members of the Father’s Rights movement insist on accusing women of victimizing them via the court system and excuse each other for abandoning their children, women and mothers will have no interest in working with them in any capacity.

If men want shared or 50/50 custody of their children they are more likely to change custody laws if they are working in union with women and mothers, not blaming them but working with them. Men, women, and children are harmed during divorce. A lot of that harm comes from a system that is in dire need of reform. That reform isn’t going to take place if fringe elements of angry men are allowed to continue to spew venom and anger from their keyboards.

Let’s face it, as parents, we can’t get what we all want for our children, what is in their best interest until we all come together and stop blaming each other.

The post If You Abandon Your Children, I Don’t Want To Hear About Your “Father’s Rights” appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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equal parenting after divorce

Why Equal Parenting Time After Divorce Should Be The Norm

equal parenting after divorce

 

Not every circumstance occurring in our culture should be subject to an election as if it were a constitutionally guaranteed choice; some conditions are, to the contrary, an inalienable right, such as a child’s right to each parent equally after divorce.

I had intended for my next article to be a definition of the Parental Alienation Syndrome, but that will have to be momentarily deferred. I felt the necessity to comment, instead, the shared parenting law in Arizona, and I must extend my accolades to Mike Espinoza for his indefatigable and self-divulging efforts to facilitate its passage. Being neither a politician nor a mental health professional, Mike took up the cause as a loving, dedicated, and supportive father who had become a victim of the PAS.

Why Equal Parenting Time After Divorce Should Be The Norm

When we select a partner it is generally on the basis of what my mentor, child psychiatrist Salvador Minuchin, labeled as “complementarity.” In non-professional terminology, it is how we each balance our strengths and weaknesses with those of our partner.  In other words, we tend to select a partner who compensates for our weaknesses, and they likewise do the same.

It is, therefore, logical to conclude that the most appropriate decisions affecting children are arrived at when the parents do so collaboratively, with each parent drawing on their respective strengths and abilities. Neither parent must feel that he/she surrendered to the other parent’s will because the struggle to reach an accord became too great.

In my 17 years of practice as a family therapist, I have documented a wealth of anecdotal evidence that confirms that parental collaboration almost always facilitates the child’s optimal development and achieves the desired results. The post-divorce situation most assuredly requires the same parental collaboration so that the child continues to benefit from the strengths that had been provided by the parent who becomes the nonresidential parent.

Regrettably, however, this collaboration is undermined by our adversarial approach to the resolution of child custody.  Sole custody tends to be more the norm rather than joint custody; and even in those situations when joint legal custody is awarded, the residential parent often usurps with impunity the authority of the other parent. And, of course, this selection is predicated upon having to make a choice as to who would presumably (and I emphasize presumably) be the better parent.

Despite the obvious benefit of parental collaboration to children, which the research is now supporting, shared parenting is not without its critics and controversy. For example, the Arizona Foundation for Women CEO, Jodi Ligget, qualified the applicability of the law to those parental relationships that have minimal conflict.

She further asserted that the basis for custody decisions ought to be determined by the standard of the best interests of the child. But as this author/therapist stated in her prior article, I maintain that marginalizing one parent while elevating the other cannot achieve the best interest of the child, except in those situations of substantiated serious social deviancy and/or mental illness of one of the parents.

Yet other skeptics of the law have argued that, if the parents were capable of engaging in a collaborative co-parenting relationship, they would have sought out mediation rather than litigation.

Let me respond to this criticism by drawing on the wisdom of my sociology professor, Edward Sagarin. It was 1965, and the class was debating the implementation of the recently enacted Civil Rights Act. One of my classmates offered the following analysis, “You cannot legislate morality. Therefore, the legislation will fail.” Professor Sagarin responded, “You are correct that you cannot legislate morality. But the Civil Rights Act is not about morality; it is about behavior. And behavior can most definitely be legislated and can be enforced with the appropriate consequences.”

Professor Sagarin was very wise. We must be judiciously selective, even though our government is a democracy, as to when it is appropriate to provide its citizens with a choice. The Bill of Rights, for example, which was frequently invoked by Professor Sagarin throughout Sociology 101, protects minority rights from abuse by the vote of the majority.

Equal Parenting Time After Divorce How novel!

I am advocating that there be no choice for sole custody or for primary residency. Such choices must be off the table, no option! We should deem, forthwith, that it be the child’s civil rights to an equal relationship with each parent.

When the child’s parents, who are generally quite law-abiding, rational citizens in all other aspects, engage in the destructive, adversarial behaviors that so frequently occur in divorce situations, it is only because they believe they can get away with such behaviors. And they usually do. Even the not-so-rational parent, who engages in alienating behaviors, is effective in achieving alienation because of the cavalier, indifferent, and/or self-interested professional who enables and emboldens her/him.

I am proposing, therefore that every child of divorce has the right to say, “I need and desire that the two most important people in my life continue to parent me collaboratively through shared parenting. I have a right to expect that you will subvert your animosity for each other to your love for me. Doing so will inevitably produce results which are in my best interest.”

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have to be around your ex

Have To Be Around Your Ex? 7 Tips For Handling Child Related Events

have to be around your ex

 

For most divorced women it is hard to go to any event where you know we might run into our ex, unfortunately, for those of us with kids, it is inevitable. There is a good chance our ex will be at the big events in our child’s life. While in most cases this is good news for our children, it is often not good news for us.

Regardless of the details of your marriage and divorce and where you are in the process, for most of us, this prospect can be anything from disturbing to filled with dread. This article gives some tips on navigating these tricky waters

Have To Be Around The Ex?

1. Admit this will be hard. A lot of us might have imagined a fairytale divorce as easily as we imagined a fairytale marriage. The reality is that being in the same room with someone you once loved and who hurt you will be hard for both of you. And while most of us hope to get to the point where we can take a minute to consider what this is like for him, for now, I encourage you to keep your empathy for yourself. It is going to be hard and you will need to think of the things you can do to make it easier for you.

2. Anticipate the problems. Try to anticipate what will be the biggest problem for you. This is different for each of us and may vary from event to event and they are all legitimate. Sometimes it all just looks like a black forest of fears but for most of us, there is usually one or two specific things that are the triggers. For some people it will just be seeing his face, for others, it will be seeing the people who used to know you as a couple. Explore this with yourself or a friend.  Knowing the specific fear you are walking into often helps you be prepared.

3. Control your contact. Even if he will be there, you can control how much contact and the kind of contact you have with him. If you know that seeing him with his new girlfriend will bring you to tears, honor this and give yourself a way to not have to look at him. Bring a book, bring a friend, anything that will give you something else to look at. You have no obligation to introduce yourself and be social.

This also applies to seating. If it is an event with assigned seating, tell the host you do not want to sit near your ex. If there is no assigned seating, get there early enough to choose your seat wisely. Most event planners understand and respect this. And absolutely make sure that you can leave whenever you need to. I have sometimes taken Lyft home when the other people I came with wanted to stay longer but I knew I had had enough.

4. Protect yourself. In the case of someone who can be physically or legally abusive, call the police ahead of time. In my case, my ex-husband abused me legally with lawsuits and even an attempted restraining order. The legal threat was real so at one anticipated encounter I called the police ahead of time and told them my situation. The police met me and drove with me to the event. When I told the officer that my concern was that my ex would call the police on me, she said, “Well, then the dispatcher can tell him we are already here,” It gave me great confidence to do what I needed to do as a mother and gave me protection against another abusive lawsuit.

5. Focus on your child. That is the reason you are there. Let it be a mantra. I keep a picture of my children handy because it can quickly snap me back when my mind starts to go down a dark road.

6. Tell people. This is often not something we have allowed ourselves to do as we have tried to make a dysfunctional family work. But divorce makes it obvious there are problems and most people understand the strain of divorce so let other people you trust at the event know your discomfort. Most people will be happy to help even if it is just to periodically check on you to see how you are doing.

7. Lastly, surround yourself with support. There is a lot there when we look around. Sometimes it is hard to see this when the person who we trusted most has hurt us and the relationship we counted on is over. Still, it is there and let yourself find it. What feels supportive to you can change as you heal and grow. In the beginning, it might just be a book with positive messages that you can carry with you. Later it might be other people as you begin to know who you can trust and learn to trust yourself.

These are just a few of the tips that have helped me and my friends. I encourage you to reach out and find a few more that work for you. We don’t have to miss out on enjoying important events in our lives because our ex will be there. We are growing and changing and we can learn to navigate our way through these stormy and unfamiliar waters. Today’s soccer game will lead to tomorrow’s graduation and we can find what works for us to be there.

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parental alienation cause ptsd

Does Parental Alienation cause PTSD?

parental alienation cause ptsd

Does Parental Alienation cause PTSD?

Let’s start with what Parental Alienation Syndrome is. It is an aggressive form of psychological abuse whereby one parent, usually, degrades and destroys the relationship between the children and their other parent.

Though primarily occurring in high conflict divorce and custody situations, it can be seen in intact families, between parents of parents, and even worse, child protective agencies. This destruction of a once very strong bond between the children and the parent is like a living death with no closure and thus a daily reminder of someone we love and feel disconnected from.

So what is PTSD?  PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  But what does that mean?  The DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists it  with a diagnosis code of 309.81 and describes it as follows:

the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate (Criterion A1). The person’s response to the event must involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror (or in children, the response must involve disorganized or agitated behavior) (Criterion A2). The characteristic symptoms resulting from the exposure to the extreme trauma include persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event (Criterion B), persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (Criterion C), and persistent symptoms of increased arousal (Criterion D). The full symptom picture must be present for more than 1 month (Criterion E), and the disturbance must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Criterion F.)

But what does all this mumbo jumbo mean?  It means that when a devastating event or series of events occur to an individual, it can have profound effects on their ability to cope and deal with it.  The victim becomes paranoid or scared. They have panic attacks, uncontrollable crying, inability to think clearly, anger, fear, hatred, rage, uncontrollable fight and flight responses, even reoccurring thoughts or dreams of the event.

It can lead to extreme depression, exaggerated emotional responses including irritability and anger, substance abuse, insomnia or excessive sleep, nightmares, heightened attention and reactions, inability to concentrate or finish a task. Basically, the person feels lost, confused, scared, and all alone.

PTSD is classified with three levels or types. Acute PTSD occurs within the first 3 months. Chronic PTSD continues for 3 months or more. And Delayed Onset PTSD occurs after 6 months or more have passed and then the symptoms appear.

You can actually have PTSD but not know it because you have learned how to cope with it, control it and deal with it by compartmentalizing it. In other words, you have learned various tools and tricks to put it at bay so you can focus on what needs to be dealt with and then at a later date, when you can allow yourself, you break down from the PTSD. PTSD is not just a word or phrase for a tragic event; it is literally about the signs and symptoms caused by the reaction to this traumatic event.

How does parental alienation cause PTSD?

Parental alienation is severe trauma to an important relationship between a parent and their child. It is pervasive and goes on and on day in and day out until finally, the victims either concede to the stress of the emotional abuse or fights back with all their might. Each person’s response to this trauma is different.

For the Targeted parent and the children, it becomes a roller coast of emotions, fears, devastation, and abuse.  A living death with no closure, they cannot move forward in a positive way. They are traumatized by the aggressive attacks from the alienator and hence the severe responses that we often see in the children and then in the targeted parent.

One might even venture a guess to say that the alienating parent is suffering from PTSD because of the loss of the marital relationship and control but is in survival mode to make sure that they are not abandoned and that they win at all costs.

Some of the many responses I have heard and seen from the trauma of PAS are:

  • Uncontrollable rage and anger,
  • Constant Fear,
  • Constant anguish,
  • Paranoia,
  • Avoidance of the aggressor,
  • Avoidance of the children,
  • Substance abuse of all kinds,
  • Inability to think rationally,
  • Inability to control their emotions,
  • Distancing themselves from everyone around them,
  • Putting up walls to protect themselves,
  • Flunking school or life,
  • Obsessive-compulsive issues,
  • Deviant behavior in the children,
  • Hypervigilance in everything they do,
  • Burying themselves in school or work,
  • Panic attacks,
  • Nightmares,
  • Over-exaggerated responses to stimuli

I could go on and on with the signs and symptoms of PAS but there is no need. From this list, you can see how the psychological abuse of PAS has the same signs and symptoms as PTSD. This proves that PAS should be considered a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by the trauma of psychological abuse. And this opens the door to an additional way of treatment for the victims of Parental Alienation.

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