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.


Signs of Narcissistic Parenting and Its Impact on Children

Parenting is a vital aspect of our lives, and its impact lasts a lifetime. The way parents treat their children can significantly impact their emotional and mental wellbeing. Narcissistic parenting is a type of parenting that is centred on the parent’s narcissistic needs, which can have severe long-term effects on children’s development. This blog post aims to provide comprehensive information about narcissistic parenting, its effects, identification, coping, and healing methods.


What is Narcissistic Parenting?


Narcissistic parenting is a type of parenting style where the parent’s needs, rather than the child’s, are prioritised. The parent tends to be self-absorbed, lacks empathy for their child, and sees the child as an extension of themselves. Narcissistic parents may neglect or emotionally and physically abuse their children, leading to a range of long-term negative effects on the child’s mental health.


Effects of Narcissistic Parenting


The effects of narcissistic parenting can be severe and long-lasting. Children who grow up with narcissistic parents may struggle with self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. They may also have difficulties forming healthy relationships, trusting others, and setting healthy boundaries. Narcissistic parenting can lead to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, which can result in complex trauma.


Identifying Narcissistic Parenting


Identifying narcissistic parenting can be challenging, as some parents may exhibit narcissistic traits, while others may have a full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. Signs of narcissistic parenting include:

  • A parent who prioritises their needs over their child’s needs
  • A parent who is emotionally or physically abusive towards their child
  • A parent who lacks empathy for their child’s feelings and emotions
  • A parent who constantly seeks attention and admiration from their child
  • A parent who sees their child as an extension of themselves and tries to live vicariously through them


Check out our video as well as our Narcissistic Families playlist.

Coping with Narcissistic Parenting


Coping with narcissistic parenting can be challenging, but it is crucial for the child’s mental health and wellbeing. Here are some tips for coping with narcissistic parenting:

  1. Set boundaries – It is important to set boundaries and let the parent know what is and is not acceptable behaviour.
  2. Seek support – Talk to a therapist or counsellor who can help you cope with the emotional trauma caused by narcissistic parenting.
  3. Practice self-care – Take care of your physical and mental health by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  4. Establish a support system – Connect with friends, family, or support groups who understand what you are going through and can offer emotional support.


Healing from Narcissistic Parenting


Healing from narcissistic parenting can be a long and challenging process, but it is possible with the right support and resources. Here are some tips for healing from narcissistic parenting:

  1. Seek therapy – Therapy can help you work through the emotional trauma caused by narcissistic parenting and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  2. Practice self-compassion – Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. You are not responsible for your parent’s behaviour, and it is not your fault.
  3. Identify and challenge negative beliefs – Narcissistic parenting can lead to negative beliefs about oneself. Identify these negative beliefs and challenge them with evidence to the contrary.
  4. Build a strong support system – Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or support groups who understand what you are going through and can offer emotional support.


Narcissistic parenting can have severe long-term effects on a child’s mental and emotional well-being. It is essential to identify narcissistic parenting patterns and develop coping mechanisms to protect oneself from the emotional trauma caused by this type of parenting. Healing from narcissistic parenting can be a long and challenging process, but with the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome the negative effects of this parenting style.

Are you dealing with a narcissistic parent?

Whether you are co-parenting with a narcissist and worried about your kids or are the adult child of a narcissistic parent, you can access support from an experienced counsellor and start your journey to recovery today.

Find Out More

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Coparenting with a Narcissist: Strategies to Manage Conflicts

Co-parenting can be a challenging task for any parent, but co-parenting with a narcissist can be even more difficult. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that affects 1% of the population. It is a disorder characterised by a lack of empathy, an inflated sense of self-importance, and a need for admiration. Narcissists can be manipulative, controlling, and difficult to communicate with. If you are co-parenting with a narcissist, it is important to learn effective strategies for setting boundaries, communicating effectively, and managing conflicts.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?


Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterised by a lack of empathy, an inflated sense of self-importance, and a need for admiration. People with NPD often have an exaggerated sense of their own abilities and accomplishments, and they may believe they are superior to others. They may also be preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, or beauty. Narcissists may exploit others for their own gain, lack empathy for others, and have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships.

Co-parenting with a Narcissist

Co-parenting with a narcissist can be a challenging task. Narcissists may try to control the co-parenting relationship, manipulate their children, or use their children as pawns in their own power struggles. However, it is possible to co-parent successfully with a narcissist by setting boundaries, communicating effectively, and managing conflicts.

Download our free Co-Parenting Guide


Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential part of co-parenting with a narcissist. It is important to establish clear guidelines for communication, decision-making, and parenting responsibilities. Boundaries help to prevent the narcissist from controlling the co-parenting relationship and allow the other parent to maintain their own autonomy.

Effective boundaries may include:

  • Limiting communication to specific times or methods, such as email or a co-parenting app.
  • Defining decision-making responsibilities, such as which parent is responsible for making medical or educational decisions.
  • Establishing a parenting plan that outlines parenting time, holidays, and special events.
  • Avoiding discussions about personal matters or past relationship issues.


Communication Strategies

Communicating effectively with a narcissist can be challenging. Narcissists may be manipulative, dismissive, or defensive in their communication. However, it is possible to communicate effectively by using specific strategies.

Effective communication strategies may include:

  • Using “I” statements to express feelings or concerns without blaming the other parent.
  • Staying calm and avoiding emotional reactions to the narcissist’s behaviour.
  • Sticking to specific topics and avoiding tangents or personal attacks.
  • Maintaining a professional tone and avoiding sarcasm or insults.
  • Documenting all communication and keeping a record of important decisions or agreements.
Download our free guide to Communicating With An Abusive Ex


Managing Conflicts

Conflicts are inevitable in any co-parenting relationship, but conflicts with a narcissist can be particularly challenging. Narcissists may try to escalate conflicts, manipulate the situation, or turn the children against the other parent. However, it is possible to manage conflicts effectively by using specific strategies.

Effective conflict management strategies may include:

Seek professional help

If you find yourself struggling to effectively communicate and manage conflicts with a narcissistic ex-partner, seeking the help of a professional can be incredibly beneficial. A licensed therapist or counsellor can help you develop coping strategies and provide guidance on how to navigate the complexities of coparenting with a narcissist.

Avoid engaging in power struggles

It’s essential to avoid engaging in power struggles with a narcissistic ex-partner. Narcissists crave power and control, and engaging in a power struggle can give them the attention and validation they seek. Instead, try to focus on what is best for your children and communicate in a calm and rational manner.


Communicate in writing

When communicating with a narcissistic ex-partner, it can be helpful to do so in writing. This allows you to carefully choose your words and avoid getting drawn into arguments. It also provides a record of your communication, which can be helpful if conflicts arise in the future.


Set clear boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is crucial when coparenting with a narcissist. Establishing boundaries can help protect you and your children from emotional abuse and manipulation. Examples of boundaries you may want to set could include limiting communication to specific times of the day or week, not responding to emails or texts that are inflammatory or manipulative, and not engaging in arguments over the phone.


Practice self-care

Taking care of yourself is essential when coparenting with a narcissist. Narcissistic ex-partners can be emotionally draining and manipulative, and it’s essential to prioritise your own well-being. This can include getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising, and finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation or therapy.


In conclusion, co-parenting with a narcissist can be a challenging experience, but it is not impossible. It requires a lot of patience, understanding, and flexibility. Effective co-parenting strategies involve setting boundaries, communicating effectively, and managing conflicts that arise in a constructive manner.


Remember, the well-being of your children should always come first. It is essential to remain calm and level-headed when dealing with a narcissistic co-parent. Always keep your communication polite and respectful, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed.


By implementing the strategies discussed in this article, you can create a more positive co-parenting experience for yourself and your children. Don’t give up hope, and always remember that you are not alone in this journey.


Q: What are some common traits of a narcissistic ex-partner?

A: Narcissistic individuals tend to have an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration and attention, a lack of empathy for others, and a tendency to exploit others for their own gain.

Q: How can I effectively communicate with a narcissistic ex-partner?

A: It’s important to remain calm and rational when communicating with a narcissistic ex-partner. It can also be helpful to communicate in writing, set clear boundaries, and avoid engaging in power struggles.

Q: What should I do if my narcissistic ex-partner is emotionally abusive towards me or our children?

A: It’s important to seek professional help if your narcissistic ex-partner is emotionally abusive towards you or your children. A licensed therapist or counsellor can provide guidance and support on how to cope with the abuse and protect yourself and your children.

Q: How can I protect my children when coparenting with a narcissistic ex-partner?

A: Setting clear boundaries and communicating in writing can help protect you and your children from emotional abuse and manipulation. It’s also important to prioritise your children’s well-being and seek professional help if needed.

Q: Can a narcissistic ex-partner change their behaviour?

A: It’s possible for a narcissistic individual to change their behaviour, but it’s rare. Narcissistic traits are deeply ingrained, and individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may not see their behaviour as problematic. However, seeking professional help and therapy can be beneficial in some cases.

The post Coparenting with a Narcissist: Strategies to Manage Conflicts appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.


The Impact of High-Conflict Divorce on Children | Signs of Parental Alienation and How to Prevent It

Divorce can be an emotionally challenging experience for all parties involved, especially when it is a high-conflict divorce. Unfortunately, when parents cannot come to an agreement, it can negatively affect their children, leading to parental alienation. In this article, we will explore the connection between high-conflict divorce and parental alienation, and what parents can do to prevent it.


How High-Conflict Divorce Can Affect Children


A high-conflict divorce can have a profound impact on a child’s mental health and well-being. Children may feel like they are caught in the middle of their parents’ disagreements and may start to blame themselves for their parents’ issues. Children may also feel like they have to choose between their parents, leading to loyalty conflicts. These issues can lead to anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems in children.


What is Parental Alienation?


Parental alienation occurs when one parent deliberately tries to turn their child against the other parent. This can be done in subtle or overt ways, such as badmouthing the other parent, limiting contact with the other parent, or manipulating the child to choose one parent over the other. This behavior is often a result of a high-conflict divorce, where one parent is trying to gain an advantage over the other in a custody battle.


Signs of Parental Alienation


Parental alienation can be difficult to detect, but there are some signs that may indicate that a child is experiencing it. Here are some common signs of parental alienation:

  1. Rejection of one parent: A child who is experiencing parental alienation may reject one parent without any valid reason. They may refuse to spend time with the parent, speak negatively about them, or even refuse to acknowledge their existence.
  2. Lack of guilt: A child who is being manipulated may not feel guilty for their behavior towards the alienated parent. They may feel justified in their rejection of the parent and believe that they are acting on their own.
  3. Inflexible allegiance: The child may be unreasonably loyal to the alienating parent, even in situations where the parent is clearly in the wrong. The child may take the alienating parent’s side in conflicts and refuse to listen to the other parent’s perspective.
  4. Fear or anxiety: A child who is experiencing parental alienation may feel anxious or fearful around the alienated parent. They may believe that they are betraying the alienating parent by spending time with the other parent.
  5. Lack of empathy: The child may show a lack of empathy towards the alienated parent, even if the parent is clearly suffering. They may seem indifferent to the parent’s feelings and needs.
  6. False accusations: In some cases, the child may make false accusations against the alienated parent, such as accusing them of abuse or neglect. These accusations may be part of the alienation campaign orchestrated by the other parent.


It is important to note that these signs may also be present in situations where there is no parental alienation. Therefore, it is essential to carefully evaluate the situation and seek professional help before making any assumptions.


Preventing Parental Alienation


Preventing parental alienation requires a collaborative effort between both parents. Here are some tips and strategies that can help prevent parental alienation:

  • Put the child’s best interests first: Both parents should prioritize their child’s well-being and put their own issues aside. It is essential to create a safe and stable environment for the child. This means focusing on what is best for the child, even if it means compromising or making sacrifices.
  • Communicate respectfully: Effective communication is crucial in co-parenting. Parents should try to communicate in a respectful and civil manner, without blaming or criticizing each other. This can help reduce tension and conflict and create a more positive co-parenting relationship.
  • Create a co-parenting plan: A co-parenting plan can help set clear expectations and boundaries for both parents. It should include a schedule for visitation, holidays, and other events, as well as guidelines for decision-making and conflict resolution. By establishing a plan, both parents can have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, which can reduce conflict and promote cooperation.
  • Avoid badmouthing the other parent: It is crucial for parents to avoid speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child. This can create confusion and negative emotions for the child, leading to parental alienation. Instead, both parents should focus on encouraging a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • Encourage a positive relationship with the other parent: Parents should encourage their child to have a positive relationship with the other parent. This can be done by speaking positively about the other parent, facilitating communication, and supporting their relationship. It is important for the child to feel comfortable and supported in their relationship with both parents.
  • Seek professional help: Family therapy and counseling can be a valuable tool in preventing parental alienation. A qualified therapist can help both parents work through their issues and develop effective co-parenting strategies. Therapy can also provide a safe and neutral space for parents to communicate and resolve conflicts.




Parental alienation can have severe consequences on a child’s mental health and well-being, and it is often a result of a high-conflict divorce. However, by putting their child’s best interests first, communicating respectfully, and working together to create a stable and positive environment, parents can prevent parental alienation and support their child’s healthy development.

If you are struggling with the emotional toll of parental alienation

Our team of experienced counsellors can help you process your emotions and give you the strength you need to keep fighting.

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angry bio mom

5 Tips For Stepparents When Dealing With An Angry Bio Parent

angry bio mom

It is incredibly hard to show respect to someone who treats you with disrespect.


One of the most difficult aspects of being a stepparent is the relationship you will have with your stepchildren’s other bio parent. If you are lucky, the other bio parent will be civil and willing to work with you in a manner that makes parenting easy for you both.

In some cases, the stepparent doesn’t get lucky and has to deal with a bio parent/ex-spouse who stirs the pot and causes conflict between the stepparent and stepchildren. An angry bio parent/ex-spouse can cause tension as you and your new spouse attempt to build a healthy blended family.

Although you have little control over how a bio parent/ex-spouse behaves, your attitude can make dealing with any obstacles thrown your way easier to keep your focus on the family and not on the problems caused by an angry bio parent/ex-spouse.

3 Things For Stepparents To Keep In Mind When Dealing With An Angry Bio Parent

Never speak negatively of the other parent in front of your stepchildren.

Your bond will deepen with your stepchildren if you never speak negatively about their other parent. You may not like your new spouse’s ex but, remember, your stepchildren have a deep and life-long bond with both their parents. If you attack the bio parent verbally or negatively in front of the children not only do you damage your relationship with your stepchildren, you damage the emotional well-being of your stepchildren.

Treat your stepchildren’s other parent with respect.

It is incredibly hard to show respect to someone who treats you with disrespect. When you consider the fact that your stepchildren are watching, that pill may not be so hard to swallow. If you put effort into responding to the bio parent/ex-spouse’s anger with kindness you not only move closer to de-escalating conflict, you set a valuable example for your stepchildren to use in their own lives when faced with conflict resolution.

Finding it hard to comprehend showing respect to someone you feel is a detriment to your family, new marriage, and their own children? Below are a few suggestions:

  • Never make decisions regarding the bio parent’s children without first consulting them.
  • Keep the bio parent informed of child-related issues when the children are in your custody.
  • Don’t engage or get in the middle of any conflict between your new spouse and the bio parent.
  • Remain calm and neutral regardless of what kind of conflict the bio parent starts.
  • Turn and walk away if the bio parent should try to engage you in conflict.
  • Always greet the bio parent with a smile and pleasant attitude.

Make sure your stepchildren know you understand how much they love both their parents.

Never put your stepchildren in the position of being afraid of talking about or missing their other bio parent. Show them that they are safe in their feelings and expressions for both their parents and that you are secure enough in your place as their stepparent to share that love.

Your stepchildren are better served if they are sheltered from conflict between parents and stepparents. The less they know, the more secure they will feel in building a bond with you and in the new blended family.

Encourage your new spouse to treat their ex with civility regardless of how that causes you to feel.

You may not like the idea of your new spouse communicating with their ex but, they are co-parenting children and, regardless of how you feel, what is best for the children trumps your feelings. Nothing promotes conflict like parents who refuse to cooperatively co-parent after divorce. You are in a position of encouraging your new spouse to also treat their ex with respect. Use your position wisely!

Find a healthy way to cope with the stress and angry bio parent/ex-spouse can cause.

Although it is important you don’t do anything to promote or extend conflict, it’s also important you not stuff your feelings of anger and resentment toward the bio parent/ex-spouse. You are in a position of needing to find a way to express your feelings that won’t cause harm to the blended family you are trying to build and bond with.

You, of course, have your new spouse but, they have their own negative feelings to work through also. You two may be able to help each other by communicating about the problem in a healthy manner. But, be sure your communication doesn’t make the matter worse by stoking fires of anger.

If you don’t feel safe communicating with your new spouse or, feel you would be adding to their level of stress find a close friend or relative you trust and vent your frustrations. And, if push comes to shove seek out the help of a therapist to help you work through any negative impact the bio parent/ex-spouse may be having in your life and on your role as a stepparent.

Being a stepparent is rewarding and, at the same time difficult if an outside influence causes drama. It has been my experience that if you don’t engage in drama, drama soon dies out. As cliché as it sounds, take the high road if you are faced with an angry bio parent/ex-spouse.

The post 5 Tips For Stepparents When Dealing With An Angry Bio Parent appeared first on Divorced Moms.


asian mother hugging and comforting her sad son

3 Tips For Helping Children Understand Divorce

asian mother hugging and comforting her sad son


Going through a divorce is difficult, no matter the situation. Even if things ended amicably, it’s a stressful and emotional time. If things didn’t end so well, it can be crushing, devastating, and overwhelming.

Divorce is hard enough on its own, but it can be even more difficult to get through when children are involved. Parents tend to have to focus on things like custody battles and doing what’s best for their children as the divorce is finalized.

But, it’s also important to remember that you’re not the only one going through the divorce.

Helping Children Understand Divorce

While you might be discussing your children’s future in court or with your soon-to-be-ex, don’t make the mistake of not talking directly to them, too. They might not understand the full scope of what a divorce entails, but kids are perceptive and curious. If their lives are changing in any way, explaining it to them can make a big difference in their mental well-being.

So, how can you help them understand divorce in an age-appropriate way?

The Initial Conversation

A divorce shouldn’t be something that’s kept a secret from your child. You don’t need to go into the details, but they need to know what’s happening and how it will affect them. If you have a particularly anxious child, it’s easy for them to come up with worst-case scenarios. They might struggle with the idea of not seeing a parent again, or thinking that they did something wrong.

Commit to having a long conversation with your child about the divorce and what they can expect. Obviously, the tone of your conversation will be different depending on their age, but keep the following tips in mind as you talk about it:

  • Tell them the truth in a simple and honest way
  • Reassure them that you love them
  • Address any changes that might happen

Undoubtedly, your child will have questions. One of the best things you can do is to listen to them. If they’re young, help them find words and ways to express their true feelings. Don’t make them feel fearful or hesitant about sharing those feelings or telling their the truth.

Telling your kids about the divorce isn’t a one-time thing. You won’t have a singular conversation and then wipe your hands clean of the topic. It should be an ongoing conversation, even if that means checking in with them periodically to ask how they’re feeling about it. That consistent reassurance, love, and security will go a long way with kids of all ages.

The Importance of Co-Parenting

Co-parenting can be one of the most difficult things to do. It forces you to regularly communicate with your ex. If you didn’t always see eye-to-eye in the marriage, that can be a serious source of stress as you move forward.

But, a healthy co-parenting relationship is what’s best for your child. It will reduce their stress levels and provide them with a greater sense of security.

Child custody laws are set in place for a reason. In your finalized divorce statement, a decision will be made regarding custody. Often it’s a 50/50 split. Sometimes, however, the child will spend the majority of their time with one parent while the other receives visitation rights. It’s important to be a united front on this when discussing it with your child. Talk about living arrangements, what they can expect, and ask them for their opinion.

Older kids can declare their preference in child custody. Some states take that into account more than others from a legal standpoint. From a co-parenting point of view, however, it’s important to honor what your child wants while still deciding what’s best for them, overall.

For example, maybe you really want 50/50 custody, but you work long hours and would have to leave your child with a babysitter much of the time. Or, maybe you’re planning on moving out of state for work or to get a fresh start. So, as hard as it can be to admit, they would likely be better off with their other parent most of the time.

If they’re older and express that they want to live with their other parent, that can be a hard pill to swallow. But, if it’s truly what they want, it’s important to respect those wishes so you don’t force a relationship that could turn into something resentful. Instead of forcing things, offer more communication, like video chats or daily phone calls to help you stay connected without changing your child’s living arrangements.

How to Help Them Cope

Some children will handle divorce better than others. But, even if it appears your child is doing well, don’t make assumptions. Instead, make their life as normal and familiar as possible. Some of the best ways of helping them cope include:

  • Not speaking negatively about their other parent
  • Not forcing them to “choose sides”
  • Keeping a routine or their normal schedule in place
  • Not exposing them to conflicts
  • Always allowing them to express how they feel

Don’t forget to take care of yourself throughout this process. As the old saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. A divorce is emotionally draining. Finding time for self-care will give you the mental strength you need to provide your child with the love, reassurance, and care they need each day as both of you navigate the waters of a new chapter.

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alienating you from your child: mother and daughter with backs turned to each other

5 Must-Dos if Your Ex is Alienating You From Your Children

alienating you from your child: mother and daughter with backs turned to each other


I have a dirty little secret I kept to myself for many years…my son has rejected me and refuses to have anything to do with me.

Like millions of other parents across North America, I found myself embroiled in a very contentious custody battle. I was forced to fight tenaciously to remain a part of my son’s life, endlessly being pushed through the revolving door to the courtroom.

I was accused of things I had not done, painted as an incompetent mother, and covertly berated to my son. I was relieved when my ex-husband moved out of province and my son moved in with me full-time because I thought everything would be smooth sailing moving forward.

Within a year and a half, the last nail had been added to the coffin and I found myself financially depleted, feeling completely isolated, and without a relationship with my only son who went to his father’s for Christmas break and never came home.

Alienating You From Your Children

Parental alienation has many faces, but the outcome is always the same…a child is influenced by an emotionally unhealthy parent (or other caregivers) to reject a fit and available parent. To the alienated parent, this rejection can sometimes occur literally overnight (as it did with me), or they experience a gradual degradation in the relationship they have with their child until that child finally “decides” they don’t want to see their parent anymore.

Some common indicators (observed at various phases of alienation) suggesting that you are being alienated include:

  • Your child tells you that they do not want you to attend their extracurricular activities.
  • Your child refuses to honor your parenting time and they insist it is their decision.
  • The alienating parent insists that they can’t force your child to go to your home.
  • Your child views the alienating parent as having only good qualities and you as only having bad qualities.
  • Your child’s reasons for the rejection seem frivolous and they cannot provide a detailed account of why they are rejecting you.
  • Your child may talk like a music track on auto-repeat, parroting the same words over and over, typically to figures of authority, such as mental health professionals.
  • Your child uses age-inappropriate language.
  • Your child calls the alienating parent to “rescue” them while with you.
  • The alienating parent texts and emails the child intrusively while the child is with you.
  • Your child experiences frequent stomach pains.
  • Your child refuses to eat any food cooked or touched by you.
  • Your child rejects any form of affection from you.

So, what is a parent to do to counter the negative influence the alienating parent has on their children?  The following are five must-dos when facing parental alienation:

  • Educate yourself.
  • Minimize conflict and approach your child with empathy.
  • Become proactive.
  • Demonstrate patterns of behavior.
  • Involve a qualified mental health professional.

Educate Yourself About Parental Alienation

As a co-parenting and reunification coach, I talk to many parents. I talk to parents who are beginning to suspect they are being alienated, parents whose children have just cut-off from them emotionally, parents who have not had a relationship with their children for years, and even parents who are being wrongfully accused of alienating their children. In almost every single case, the parent does not fully understand the dynamics of parental alienation.

Knowing how the alienating parent thinks is paramount in successfully countering them at every turn. Understanding your child’s perspective will change the way you perceive your child’s behavior and the way you react to it. What many alienated parents do not know is that they sometimes engage in behaviors that unwittingly reinforce the alienation. Gaining a deep understanding of parental alienation will help you to avoid some common pitfalls.

Reduce Conflict and Approach Your Child with Empathy

Alienating parents thrive in chaos and conflict. In fact, they go out of their way to ensure that the child associates conflict with the alienated parent. Unfortunately, you cannot control anyone but yourself. Therefore, the role of conflict resolution master falls on you.

Many things happen when you are able to successfully achieve this. You feel more in control, your stress level goes down, you are giving the alienating parent less ammunition to work with, and you look like a rock-star in court and to any other professionals involved.

Reducing conflict when it comes to communicating with your ex is one thing. It is equally important to carry this over to your parenting practices. This often means ignoring poor behavior rather than acting like a disciplinarian, and responding to your child with empathy rather than anger and frustration (which becomes much easier after educating yourself on your child’s perspective).

Normal parenting practices often do not work with alienated children, and I strongly recommend you find the help of a seasoned coach to help you if you are struggling to parent your child.

Become Proactive

As an alienated parent, it is common to feel off-balance and put on the defense, and forever reacting to the chaos. Being reactionary is your worst enemy when being alienated from your child. It leaves you feeling completely out of control, and often makes you appear unstable to untrained therapist eyes who may be involved. I get it! I went through it all myself and was desperate for anyone to believe me and step in to protect my son.

All the while, my ex remained cool, calm, collected, and overall appeared to be more grounded and capable.

If you’ve been going through this for some time, I’m sure you are pretty good at predicting your ex’s next move. Now is the time to preemptively act on every prediction you make. If you are being falsely accused of drug use, invest in drug testing so that you have proof that these allegations are false rather than waiting for a judge to order the testing.

Take parenting or conflict resolution classes. Prepare yourself mentally for the next parenting exchange and think about what you can do to deescalate any expected situation your ex may concoct.

Demonstrate Patterns of Behavior

Did you know that 95% of Judges enter the courtroom without ever reading a word of the evidence submitted? This means that they are relying on your lawyer to paint a picture of what is happening within your family. This is what typically happens…your ex’s lawyers slings mud in your direction, including possible false accusations.

Then your lawyer slings mud back in the other direction. The Judge is then left frustrated wondering why “you parents” just can’t get along and thinks you’re both the problem.

Documenting the alienating parent’s behavior is key, but that is only one side of the equation. The next step is organizing ALL that information into a format that can be easily understood and that demonstrates long-term patterns of behaviors over the course of years.

Pathways Family Coaching offers a free webinar to help parents understand exactly how to achieve this. A link to register can be found at the end of this post.

Involve a Qualified Mental Health Professional

If your children are already starting to pull away, or are refusing to speak to you and have you blocked on all channels, the only recourse you may have is to seek “reunification therapy”. But there is something very important to understand…there are no developed protocols for “reunification therapy”, which means that any therapist can proclaim to offer this service regardless of the approach to therapy they take. This means that outcomes can wildly vary.

If you are seeking therapy to help your family, there are several important things to take into consideration. First, the therapist needs to be highly qualified. I always recommend a family systems approach to therapy with a therapist who has a background in attachment, trauma, and personality disorders. They also need to understand and be able to identify pathological enmeshment and the difference between alienation and estrangement (when a child rejects a parent for legitimate reasons).

If you are seeking a court order for therapy, it is important that ALL caregivers and the children be ordered to attend therapy. This includes step-parents, and most importantly, the alienating parent. After all, they are the source of the problem and if they are not required to meet with the therapist, it is much more difficult for the therapist to identify the root of the problem. I always recommend strict and thorough court orders that ensure the alienating parent complies with the therapeutic plan, and the therapist is empowered to make recommendations to the court if reunification is not successful after a period of time

Parental alienation is a very complicated family dynamic that is often missed by the courts and many therapists, is left uncontested by child protection agencies, destroys families, and leaves the children with long-term lasting effects of the emotional abuse they endured well into adulthood and sometimes for the rest of their lives.

CLICK HERE to register for Pathways Family Coaching’s free webinar on how to demonstrate patterns of behavior, or CLICK HERE to schedule a complimentary call with someone on our team.

FAQs About Things To Do When Your Ex Alienates Children:

Why does my child not want me to attend his school activities?

If your child doesn’t want you to attend his/her school or extracurricular activities, it’s quite possible that it’s a case of parental alienation. Parental alienation is common after divorce.

How can I tell If I am being alienated from my child?

You can tell that you are being alienated from your child, if your child refuses to honor your parenting time and insists it is their decision. You can also know you are being alienated when alienating parent texts and emails the child intrusively while the child is with you; your child refuses to eat any food cooked or touched by you and rejects any form of affection from you.

What to do if you are being alienated from your children?

If you are being alienated from your children, you must educate yourself on how to counter the alienating parent. You should also approach your children lovingly, minimize friction, take parenting conflict resolutions classes, and involve a qualified mental health professional.

What should I do if my children don’t talk to me anymore?

You should seek reunification therapy if your relationship with your children appears to be fractured beyond repair. 

Is there a difference between parental alienation and estrangement?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent poisons a child against the other and estrangement happens when a child rejects a parent for legitimate reasons.

Can I ask a court to order therapy to help against parental alienation?

You would have to provide the court with proof and ask it to order therapy to help against parental alienation. The court can order all the caregivers and the children to attend therapy.

Is parental alienation a complicated phenomenon?

Parental alienation is a complicated phenomenon, which often goes uncontested at courts, and has the potential of ruining a parent-child relationship. Children often carry the trauma caused by parental alienation into their adulthood. 

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The post 5 Must-Dos if Your Ex is Alienating You From Your Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.


Parallel Parenting.jpg

Parallel Parenting: When Co-Parenting With An Unreasonable Ex Doesn’t Work

Parallel Parenting.jpg

In an ideal world, co-parenting would work for everyone. But it doesn’t work for everyone. And it didn’t work for me. Sometimes even our best efforts leave nothing but damage in its wake. Navigating the waters of co-parenting with an unwilling partner isn’t worth the fight.


You know the old saying “up the creek without a paddle.” Now, what if you had the appropriate number of paddles but your canoeing partner purposefully decides not to use his? No matter how good you may be at paddling your canoe, it will be very difficult to reach your destination if your partner never sticks his paddle in the water, right? Or what if as you are trying to paddle for the both of you, he sticks his paddle straight down into the water in an attempt to stop all forward motion? You wouldn’t arrive at your finish line in this scenario either. Now imagine co-parenting with this person.

Parallel Parenting

You share a child, maybe two, maybe more. Maybe you have joint custody or maybe shared 50/50 custody. Maybe it’s been months since your divorce, or maybe it’s been years. But no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get along with one another. As a result, you are incapable of working together to raise your kids in your now-separate households. And worse, your ex now appears to be purposefully sabotaging your co-parenting efforts just to spite your efforts.

Irrational Co-Parent

Your ex doesn’t care that you’re attempting to reasonably co-parent with him. He’s not concerned about what’s in the best interest of the kids. He responds by saying you are trying to “control” him and control what goes on at his house. And all you did was suggest that the kids should have similar bedtimes in both homes, after finding out they don’t have a bedtime at his house. It doesn’t matter to him that you were trying to provide consistency between the two homes as the kids adjust to their new post-divorce lives. It just doesn’t matter. And on it goes.

You’ve been told by your therapist that you’re doing all the right things in your attempts to co-parent. You feel relieved and reassured that it’s not you at the root of these problems. But you knew that. At your therapist’s recommendation, you email your ex requesting that you both see a mediator to help develop better co-parenting skills. Your ex refuses to go saying he doesn’t need help. Instead, your ex responds by yelling at you via email saying that you can’t tell him what to do! A brick wall. Another big, fat brick wall. Any suggestions you’ve made over the last few years have been shut down in a similar manner. At this point, your therapist advises that you stop responding to your ex’s harassing emails.

Enter the Lawyers

So now what? Oh yeah, right enter, the lawyers. Your ex hires a lawyer to fight for him now that you have stopped responding to his combative emails. As a result, there are now judges and mediators telling you that you need to “learn” how to co-parent. “Figure it out,” they say. They tell you to put aside your differences for the sake of the kids. They don’t care to understand that you’ve done just that, as well as about everything else in your power to do co-parenting work and that it’s your ex who needs the lesson. They believe the failing co-parenting efforts are just as much your fault as they are his. And then they want nothing more to do with you. So if the courts refuse to get through to him, what chance will you ever have?

You think you’ve been reasonable with your requests and suggestions made to your ex. Your ex doesn’t care.

You feel as though you’ve extended the proverbial olive branch time and time again to your ex. But your ex still doesn’t care.

You’ve even forgiven him for his shortcomings, but then wonder why you even bother. He doesn’t care. So why should you?

Ah, but you do, and you know why you bother. For the kids. You would move mountains for them, and that’s what this entire process feels like. Trying to move mountains from your tiny canoe while your ex-back paddles. And since there doesn’t appear to be any olive branches heading your way anytime soon, you paddle on.

But do you have to?

What Next?

There has to be a point when you can stop co-parenting without feeling like you’ve failed, doesn’t there?

A point when you know that doing so doesn’t mean you’ve given up on parenting. A point when you stop paddling your 2-person canoe in circles and buy yourself a kayak for one!

Contrary to what judges and mediators may believe and contrary to what you feel you should do (by society’s norms), you don’t have to co-parent with your ex. If the above sounds at all familiar, stop spending your days frustrated and exhausted from your efforts. Really, it’s ok. Just let go. I tried everything and was confident in the fact that I was doing everything to the best of my ability to make our co-parenting relationship work. But it wasn’t working. And I was beyond exhausted. So give yourself a break from it all, and find out if parallel parenting might be a better fit.

One day, while scouring the internet on how to be a better co-parent, I came across a life-altering Huffington Post article by Virginia Gilbert about parallel parenting. I had never heard the term before and felt hopeful. In the article, Gilbert explained that it’s ok to have little to no communication with your ex. Less is more in a contentious situation. It’s also ok to keep your distance from your ex when at school functions or sports activities. She actually recommended it so that your kids aren’t further exposed to the tension between the two of you.

She also suggested letting go of what happens at your ex’s house. While I admit this one was hard for me initially, it was also very liberating. In fact, the entire article was liberating! Parallel parenting was an actual thing! I felt as though I had been looking for it all of my life (well, all of my co-parenting life)! As I read the article, tears filled my eyes and I felt an overall sense of relief. My anxiety level immediately decreased. She was speaking to me. I was done trying to co-parent. And I was ok with it.

In an ideal world, co-parenting would work for everyone. But it doesn’t work for everyone. And it didn’t work for me. Sometimes even our best efforts leave nothing but damage in its wake. Navigating the waters of co-parenting with an unwilling partner isn’t worth the fight. Not for me or for my children. My kids are much better served by a mother who isn’t paddling around in circles and drowning in the whitewater of co-parenting.

And if and when my ex ever decides to paddle his half of our canoe, I’ll be back in the co-parenting race. But for now, my kayak and I are navigating the waters of parallel parenting just fine. And that’s in the best interest of the kids any day.

The post Parallel Parenting: When Co-Parenting With An Unreasonable Ex Doesn’t Work appeared first on Divorced Moms.


Single mom kissing her baby

Post-divorce Tips for Single Mothers

Single mom kissing her baby


Going through a divorce is one of the hardest experiences that we can experience in life, and it can be even harder to handle once the dust settles and you realize that you will need to care for your children and bring in all of the income as a single mother. However, as a strong woman, you will get through this, and we are here to help.

Tips for Single Moms

We have created a list of tips that can help you to get through this tough time while being present for your kids and helping them thrive, even in this new family arrangement. We will discuss moving to a new home, budgeting, and finding support so you can get through to the other side and have a happy life.

Moving out of the Marital Home

It will likely be very hard to move out of your marital home, but it may be what is best for the kids. Even if you were able to keep the house as part of the divorce, you might not be able to afford it on your own — or you may just want to get out because of the bad memories.

Whatever the case, you will want to take some steps before moving away from home. Look at your budget and determine what you can afford. If you are not yet committed to a new town or are not sure where to live, then you may want to find a rental apartment that suits your needs. When you are looking at potential landing spots, it is important to ensure that there is proper medical care nearby for you and the kids. That means a doctor, dentist, and optometrist. Call ahead of time to verify that they take new patients.

It will likely be difficult to move everything you own to the new house, so you will need to declutter. Go room by room and seriously think about the items you no longer need and donate them. You can write off what you give away on your taxes. Don’t forget to update your mailing address on all bank accounts, employee records, and insurance information, so you can keep up to date.

Keeping Your Family Afloat Financially

A major factor that can keep many single mothers awake at night is how they will be able to keep their families afloat on a single income. You can survive and thrive if you have a plan. The first step is to create a budget that accounts for every source of income you have, from your job to the spousal support you receive as part of the divorce. Then, you need to look at all of your expenses, from the required (utilities, rent) to the unnecessary (dinners out, coffee at Starbucks, the cable bill), and see where you can make adjustments. For instance, do you need to pay extra for the extensive cable package with all of the movie channels, or can you reduce your expenses by downgrading and paying for a streaming service or two for half of the cost?

If you find that a lot of your money is going toward daycare costs and babysitting, then you can ask your job if they will allow you to work a flexible schedule or work from home so you can keep an eye on your kids. Have a plan of action before you speak to your manager. Tell them how you have a quiet place to work, a suitable desk and chair, and a strategy to complete all of your work without distraction.

If you are short on funds, you can consider working a side hustle like driving for a food delivery company or working for Uber or Lyft. Side jobs will give you some extra income and let you choose your hours. That last part is key because it is essential that you schedule appropriately and spend time with your family and show your love during this tough transition.

Finding Support

This will undoubtedly be a very stressful time for you as you try to navigate a new life and make ends meet, but it is important that you don’t bring that anxiety home to your family. If you do, that stress could rub off on them, and it isn’t good for their mental health. You don’t want to keep your kids completely in the dark, but you don’t want to burden them with unnecessary problems, either.

That is why it is important to get your feelings out, and you can do that by joining an online support group for single parents. These groups can do wonders for your well-being because it is a chance for you to talk to other people in your same situation and learn how they get through the hard days. Talking to others is also essential because it prevents social isolation that can lead to mental anguish and depression.

If you are uncomfortable speaking to other people, even in an online capacity, then you should at least get your feelings out by journaling your thoughts before bed or by talking one on one to a professional therapist.

As you can see, though it won’t always be easy, there are ways that you can overcome adversity and find a way to thrive as a single mother. Consider these tips, and you will show your kids that with drive and a desire to succeed, they can overcome any obstacle.

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First Holiday After Divorce

20 Tips For Getting Through Your First Holiday After Divorce

First Holiday After Divorce


My divorce became final the end of October. After nearly ten months of divorce negotiations, my children and I were about to spend our first holiday season without their father.

He had made the choice to move across the country to live with his girlfriend which meant he would spend no time during the holidays with his children.

On top of the adjustment we would have to make as a family of three instead of four, he wouldn’t be around to help his children navigate this new landscape.

I was in no mood to be jolly, but I owed it to my children to be the best mom I could be, in spite of how I felt. I owed it to myself to wring as much happiness out of the holidays as was possible, too. I did this by making sure our holiday schedule was packed with upbeat activities with friends and family.

I look back now and see that it was probably one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had. The effort we made to make it good, made it good.

Below I’m sharing some tips with you that have been important for not only myself but my children also when navigating the holidays after divorce.

20 Tips For Getting Through Your First Holiday After Divorce

1. Be patient

Even in the best of times, the holidays can be a bit hectic. However, when you’re celebrating the holidays for the first time on your own, they can feel more than hectic. They can feel overwhelming! You’ve got so much going on emotionally with your divorce that the added tasks, events and scheduling of the holidays can all be just a bit too much.

Be patient with yourself, your kids and the rest of your family as you navigate the holidays. This is new and different for everyone and a little patience will go a long way toward making your first holidays post-separation/divorce more enjoyable than you might believe they can be right now.

2. Be flexible

The holidays are about celebrating with family and friends and don’t HAVE to occur on only one specific day. Many of my clients who are celebrating the holidays for the first time as a single parent will get tied up with the idea that holidays can only happen on the official day marked on the calendar.

For example, it’s not unusual for them to think that Thanksgiving Day can ONLY happen on the fourth Thursday of November. However, with a bit of advance planning, you may decide that Thanksgiving will actually happen the Saturday before the fourth Thursday of November so you can celebrate it with your kids. Having an early Thanksgiving even has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid the crowd buying their last-minute turkey and fixings!

Think about it from your kids’ point of view too. Most kids love the holidays and having double the holidays – one with Mom and one with Dad – might be something the kids think is great!

3. Focus on others

Another way to enjoy the holiday season is to focus on those less fortunate than you. Now I get there are times when you feel like the most unfortunate person around, but you really can survive your divorce and the holidays by being willing to recognize that it could be worse.

You might want to consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a center that provides holiday “shopping” for needy families. I can guarantee that when you focus on providing joy for those less fortunate than you an amazing thing happens; you forget about your troubles and appreciate what you do have even more.

4. It’s not about the stuff!

Gift giving is often a big part of the holiday season. With separation and divorce, the funds available for gift giving are usually less than they were before. However, gifts don’t need to be purchased to be appreciated. Sometimes the gift of time and attention means more than any store-bought gift ever could.

5. Let happiness happen

For a lot of people going through divorce, it can seem strange to experience any emotion other than some form of upset. Divorce is an upsetting event that can be almost all-consuming. However, if you start to feel happy as a result of the holiday events, ENJOY the feeling! You deserve to be happy and enjoy the holidays just as much as everyone else does.

6. Reach out to family and friends

Almost everyone I know wishes someone could read their mind and offer help when it’s needed. On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who can read minds with any real reliability. The message here is if you need a little extra help to get your holidays to feel merrier, be sure and ask for it. Don’t wait for someone to guess what you need because there’s a chance that they might not guess correctly.

7. Make new family traditions

With divorce, so many things change. Some of these changes are not so comfortable, but some of these changes are good and might even be fun. What new family tradition can you introduce this holiday season to keep things fun?

When I got divorced, my new tradition was spending Christmas with my family. We had almost always spent Christmas with my in-laws when I was married to my first husband. I’ve had fun spending the holidays with my parents, siblings, and their families since then.

8. Nix the guilt

So many divorced parents feel guilty about how the kids’ holidays will be different. The thing is different doesn’t necessarily mean bad or wrong. Different is just different. If you nix the guilt and embrace the new way your holidays will be, then your kids will enjoy the holidays too. After all, if the kids are now having double the celebrations it’s worth making sure they’re having fun with you, even if it is different.

9. Work with your ex in a cooperative manner for the kids’ sake

One of the things I always tell my clients is that their divorce is between them and their former spouse. The holidays can be a wonderful experience for the kids provided that’s the shared goal you and your former spouse have for them.

I know of one couple who have agreed for the kids’ dad to have them for the holidays because his parents are still around and hers aren’t. She celebrates the holidays with the kids at another time.

The result? Everyone’s able to make the most of the holidays!

10. Continue your traditions, but simplify them

You may have holiday traditions that are important to you, but they just are not possible now that you’re divorced. What can you do to tweak these traditions so that you can still have them?

For example, maybe you have had a holiday tradition of going skiing. If that kind of a trip isn’t possible this year, you may choose to do something else that captures the essence of the traditional ski trip. You may decide to play ski jumping on the Wii, have a marshmallow fight instead of a snowball fight, and drink hot chocolate afterward. Let your creativity flow, and I know you’ll be able to create a modified tradition this year that you’ll still enjoy.

11. Don’t spend the holidays alone

It can be tempting to crawl into a cave and hibernate during our first holidays alone – especially if your ex has the kids. However, I urge you to resist the temptation. There’s no reason to punish yourself, for that’s what hiding in a cave during the holidays is. I’m not saying that you don’t need time alone. You very well might. I’m just suggesting that instead of spending all of the holiday season alone, make an effort to go out and spend some time with others. I promise that you’ll get a different perspective on your first holidays as a single person if you open yourself up to even a little fun celebrating the holidays with others.

12. Take care of your health

The funny thing about the holiday season is that it coincides with the cold and flu season. This, along with the stress that accompanies divorce, makes you a bit more susceptible to catching a bug. So, take good care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, adequate exercise and good nutrition in addition to all the holiday goodies.

13. Give yourself a gift

This being the first holiday season post separation/divorce, chances are you won’t be receiving a gift from your ex. You probably won’t be buying them a gift either.

Since your gift giving list has decreased by at least one, why not add yourself to your list? If you do, you’ll be able to buy yourself something that you’ll truly enjoy this holiday season. (You may also want to make sure it’s not something that you’ll regret purchasing in the New Year when the payments for it start!)

14. Count your blessings

It’s easy to get caught up in what’s different this holiday season – in the negative sense.

If that’s happening to you, flip that upside down and count what’s different AND positive this holiday season. Maybe you don’t have to listen to your ex’s Uncle Jeremiah’s continual belching during the holiday meal or suffer through listening to the never-ending story of all your former mother-in-law’s aches and pains.

15. Lean on your faith

Whatever your beliefs are, you just might be able to find solace in your faith when you’re not feeling the “Ho Ho Ho!” in the holidays. For many, the holidays are a celebration of faith and spending some time remembering this might be just what you need to experience a bit more of the holiday spirit.

16. Plan ahead

The most important thing to have when you want something to happen at a certain time is a plan. Wanting to have happy holidays requires a plan too. The plans don’t have to be elaborate or come with a detailed timetable of when events must happen. But, by giving some thought to what you want to have happened and then doing what needs to be done will make it more likely you’ll have a happy holiday season.

17. Cultivate gratitude

Developing an attitude of gratitude does wonders for the way you view the world. This was one of the most important skills I developed when I got divorced. It helped me to be more positive and proactive about changing the things that needed to be changed, not just during the holidays but year-round.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

18. Engage in more of what you love about the holidays.

People like the cooler weather and giving and receiving gifts, decorations. Whatever it is that you love most about the holiday season, figure out a way to get more of it. Once you do that, you’ll definitely have happier holidays.

19. Do more of what puts you in the holiday mood.

When I ask my clients this question I hear answers like shopping, parties, decorating, watching football, Christmas lights, and caroling. The next question I ask them is, “How can you do more of these and get even more enjoyment out of the holiday season?”

So, what activities put you in the holiday mood?

Now, how can you do more of these?

20. Be realistic

Your life is in the midst of a major change. For most people, separation and divorce bring increased responsibilities along with decreased financial means and free time. Be sure and factor these facts in this holiday season. If you do, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier to be realistic with the expectations you have of yourself, your family, and the holidays this year.


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