Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

“Shared Parenting” Places Ideology Over Children

by Barry Goldstein

Just as custody courts developed responses for domestic violence at a time when no research was available, early proponents of shared parenting sought to experiment when there was no research about shared parenting. Initially, parents seeking shared parenting did so voluntarily, in situations where they were able to communicate and cooperate. There is now legitimate research that found co-parenting benefits children only under the best circumstances. This requires the arrangement to be voluntary; an ability to communicate; neither parent is afraid of the other; and they live nearby. There is other legitimate research that found shared parenting is harmful to children because of the constant disruptions. There is no valid research supporting shared parenting without the necessary favorable circumstances. Unfortunately, this is a mistake courts frequently make.

Most custody cases, like other litigation, are settled more or less amicably. The problem is the 3.8% of cases that require trial and often much more. Court professionals have been taught to use a high conflict approach that assumes the parents are angry with each other and acting out in ways that harm the children. The research found 75-90% of these cases are really domestic violence cases that involve the most dangerous abusers. These are men who believe she has no right to leave, and who seek to use custody disputes to regain control. These are the last cases where shared parenting should be considered, but courts that have been slow to integrate important scientific research or use a multi-disciplinary approach, have trouble recognizing abuse in these cases. The use of shared parenting increases the bias to minimize or deny abuse in order for the case to be eligible for co-parenting.

The use of shared parenting has been encouraged and promoted by three groups based on their preferences and personal benefits, divorced from the well-being of children. Male supremacist groups support shared parenting because otherwise the safe, protective mother would have a strong advantage. Court professionals promote shared parenting because it creates the need for lucrative services, particularly to help hostile parties communicate. Court officials like shared parenting because they must respond to overcrowded dockets, and believe shared parenting is the only compromise both parties can be pressured to accept. In domestic violence cases, the abuser would never agree to anything reasonable, so they need to pressure and sometimes threaten the victim to settle cases. In my articles, I often need to explain problems that occurred after victims were pressured to accept co-parenting with their abuser.

Shared Parenting was Never Intended for Domestic Violence Cases

Most people, including court professionals, are unaware custody courts are having severe problems trying to respond to cases involving domestic violence or child abuse. Many protective mothers believe the courts are corrupt because the decisions and process are so unfair and catastrophic. While there is corruption with the cottage industry, courts are making harmful decisions because of their failure to use evidence-based research and unintended bias. Court officials would vehemently deny the system works poorly, but the factors that influence courts demonstrate their denials are wrong.

There is something undeniably wrong with a system in which a theory based on no research; but only the belief that sex between adults and children can be acceptable; and twice rejected by the American Psychiatric Association because of the lack of supporting research; has more influence over courts than two studies from the most credible sources, that go to the essence of what courts need to decide in custody cases involving possible domestic violence or child abuse.

Domestic violence is about control, including financial control. This means that in most contested cases the abuser controls most of the financial assets. Unscientific alienation theories were concocted and continue to be used to help cottage industry professionals make large incomes helping abusive fathers. The cottage industry lobbied to include alienation in the DSM which is the compendium of all valid mental health diagnoses. I am not aware of any other court that continues to consider a theory twice rejected by the leading professional association.

The ACE (adverse childhood experiences) Studies are peer-reviewed medical research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ACE found that children exposed to domestic violence, child abuse and other traumas will live shorter lives and face a lifetime of health and social problems. Most of the harm is not from any immediate physical injuries, but from living with the fear and stress abusers cause. Clearly, this knowledge goes to the essence of the well-being of children.

The Saunders Study is peer-reviewed scientific research from the National Institute of Justice in the US Justice Department. Saunders found court professionals need knowledge of specific subjects that include screening for domestic violence, risk assessment, post-separation violence and the impact of DV on children. Professionals without this knowledge tend to focus on the myth that mothers frequently make false reports and unscientific alienation theories. These mistaken approaches lead to recommendations and decisions that harm children. Saunders recommends a multi-disciplinary approach that would include experts in domestic violence and child abuse when those subjects are important to the custody decision.

I think it is significant that ACE is used by medical doctors to diagnose and treat patients, by therapists to treat patients, by schools to help traumatized students, and by health officials to improve public health. In contrast, the only purpose of alienation theories is to help abusive fathers gain custody. Without ACE, courts inevitably minimize domestic violence and child abuse and without Saunders, courts rely on the wrong experts and so disbelieve true reports of abuse. ACE and Saunders demonstrate that many standard court practices are mistaken. This is not neutral in the sense it applies to both parents. All the mistakes from failing to consider ACE and Saunders tilt courts in favor of abusive fathers and towards risking children. Significantly, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges seeks to train other judges about ACE and Saunders.

The research differs on whether shared parenting is helpful or harmful in cases involving two good and loving parents. Decisions in these cases are less consequential because either parent or both parents will do their best for their children. Cases involving possible domestic violence or child abuse are very different. I interviewed medical doctors working with the ACE Research for my Quincy book. I asked them the most important question for courts to consider in these cases. When a child has been exposed to multiple ACEs, is there something we can do to save the child from the awful consequences? We can save these children, but standard court practices, particularly when promoting shared parenting prevent the responses the doctors said are necessary to save children from the awful consequences. Saunders found abusers use decision-making to block needed treatment and especially therapy because they are afraid the child will reveal his abuse. When courts require unprotected visitation without requiring the abuser to change his behavior, the child cannot heal and is doomed to a shorter, less healthy life. These contested cases are often the last chance to save the child.

Stop Using Shared Parenting in Abuse Cases

The combination of high conflict approaches and shared parenting is dangerous and too often deadly. High conflict creates a false equivalency between victims and abusers. Courts typically immediately demand co-parenting and take risks before they have time to consider the evidence of abuse or the critical context. Many court professionals immediately start promoting and pressuring for shared parenting. Victims are routinely punished if they object to cooperating with their abusers. Victim’s lawyers often tell clients not to raise abuse issues and not to object to dangerous arrangements. This results in courts making harmful decisions without ever learning about the history of abuse. This approach also serves to silence children who are exposed to the abuser. In the process, the importance of primary attachment is minimized and in some cases breast feeding is short-circuited to make sure the abuser has a “fair” amount of the child’s time.

Court professionals have repeatedly been told that children do better with both parents in their lives. This is true but is based on having two safe and loving parents. This is often not true in contested custody cases. Children need their primary attachment figure more than the other parent and the safe parent more than the abuser. When children have two good parents, they certainly benefit from a relationship with both parents. There is no valid research that children do better with 50-50 than say 70-30 or some other division.

The original idea behind shared parenting was made in total good faith. Unfortunately, it is often used for harmful purposes that bad-faith actors seek to hide. Male supremacist groups promote shared parenting as a first step towards taking children from their best parent. This is based on the ideology of “father’s rights” and a strong desire to avoid child support. The use of shared parenting often limits the needed inquiry about the history of abuse.

The biggest problem with shared parenting is that it is routinely used in inappropriate cases. Saunders found it should never be used in domestic violence cases. Even in the rare instances that a mother makes a false report, this is not the kind of case where parties are able to communicate effectively. Shared parenting was never meant for abuse cases, but with present outdated practices, courts are destroying children’s lives to promote an ideology and sense of entitlement.

Courts and legislatures need to address the failure of custody courts to integrate evidence-based research and consider the specialized expertise about domestic violence and child abuse that would help courts avoid dangerous mistakes. Until the present problems with the courts’ approach to the most consequential cases can be fixed, the last thing legislatures should focus on is expanding co-parenting arrangements that are already dangerously overused.

Some legislatures have recognized the serious problems discussed in this article. They have passed piecemeal solutions that would help children if they were properly implemented. The problem is that judges are often comfortable with familiar outdated practices and defensive about their mistakes. Repeatedly, we have seen courts work around instead of with the piecemeal reforms. Legislatures that want to protect the children in their states must support comprehensive legislation to create needed reforms. The legislation should specifically tell courts to stop using the outdated practices that harm children. The legislation must make the health and safety of children the first priority. The use of the word health requires courts to use the ACE Research because otherwise judges cannot recognize the full range of health risks. The legislation must promote the integration of important research like ACE and Saunders. The legislation must promote a multi-disciplinary approach that Saunders recommends. The legislation should provide for an early hearing limited to abuse issues to avoid distraction with less important issues and tactics. The legislation must also provide training in domestic violence as recommended in Saunders for judges and preferably other court professionals. The legislative solution is called the Safe Child Act. It is the comprehensive solution to court decisions that too often take away our children’s last chance for a full and healthy life. When legislators are ready to respond to the custody court crisis, it is much better for them to finally solve the problem rather than make it worse by further expanding shared parenting that is already overused.

Barry Goldstein is a domestic violence author, speaker, advocate and expert witness. He is the author of six books concerning domestic violence and child custody. Barry is the author of the Safe Child Act which is a comprehensive plan based on current scientific research that can fix the broken court system and make family courts safe for children.


The Ultimate Insult To A Narcissist

After everything the narcissist has done to you wouldn’t it be nice to get a little bit back one day?

I’m not talking about doing something cruel or vindictive like them, but I am talking about solid ways to stand in your power that bring them TOTALLY undone.

In this episode of Thriver TV, I am going to share the ultimate insult to a narcissist and how you can overcome them when they try to smear you during property settlements, while co-parenting, or any other situation where they would typically derail you.

If you can listen and absorb the message in today’s episode, you will be well on your way to defeating them and going free.



Video Transcript

Today I want to talk to you about the ultimate insult to a narcissist. This also happens to be the greatest growth compliment to yourself, which is such an added bonus!

I’m really excited to share this information with you, but before I do, I want to remind you that if you haven’t yet subscribed to my YouTube channel, I invite you to please do so, and to share it with others who could benefit.

Let’s begin with an essential understanding first. What is it that narcissists want more than anything?

I’m going to put it really simply and cut straight to the chase: what they want is your attention. They want your focus, they want your energy and they want your life force.

What does this look like?

It looks like them sucking you into, and manipulating you into, handing your energy and your resources over to them. It’s about them purposely triggering you into emotional responses towards them, because that is their fastest validation that they’re significant. Your granting them attention is you getting triggered to hand over your energy.

Why do we react to narcissists (because they are highly triggering)? But why are we reacting the way we do?

It’s because of two reasons that we get triggered and we react.

Either we are looking to them to provide us with something they are not giving us – that we haven’t realized we’ve not been able to give to ourselves; or we are triggered because we are trying to rectify something they have done to us that is really hurtful.


Narcissists Don’t Care

The thing with narcissists is that they do not learn through any of their experiences.

Normal human beings grant eachother things such as compassion, kindness and sharing – because they care and are interested in a win-win. A narcissist is not at all disturbed by not granting you these things.

Narcissists don’t even care about giving you the basic respect of recognition that you are a flesh and blood autonomous human being with a soul and feelings.

You really need to understand this: narcissists couldn’t care less about recognizing any of that normal humanity, and they care even less about giving you what you want or need in order to feel healthy, safe and loved. That’s not on their radar at all and that’s not what they are in your life to do. So of course you are triggered because this is so careless and so neglectful. It’s out and out abuse – it really is.

They know that you are going to react and they know that in your reaction you’re going to hand over attention and energy to them. So this is why they don’t learn and they don’t change – it’s giving them narcissistic supply.

Of course, in the early days it didn’t happen like that, because if you met and began connecting to somebody who was careless, neglectful, and didn’t care about your feelings, you never would have signed up into receiving such treatment.

That extreme care and attention that the narcissist was giving to you in the early days was all a ploy to get you hooked and dependent on them. That person – that caring, giving, granting person – never existed and they never will. It’s a show. It’s a mirage.

If you were born into a family of origin where this person is triggering you by not caring about you, then that always was the case, because as a child you didn’t have the capacity to choose differently. It was what it was, and it was your normal right from the beginning.

But as adults we can choose differently and we’re going to be talking about that a little later on.

So the first thing is, they don’t do caring things that normal caring, considerate people would do.


Narcissists Need To Trigger You

Then also they do horrible things to trigger you. These are things like name-calling, or stonewalling.

You may confront them because you want some accountability and they will just walk out the door. They will refuse to speak to you: they’ll shut you down.

Or they’ll do their whole blaming of you – they’ll project onto you and bring up all sorts of things. They will get off topic.

They lie, they cheat, they steal from you… they do all manner of horrible things.

They will do whatever it takes to trigger you, because as soon as they trigger you, then you are handing over your energy to them.

It is all about attention.

It’s all about them disowning their inner traumas, their behavior, their dysfunctions and their inner self-rejection.

It’s about lining you up, because as soon as you’re triggered they can make it all your fault.

Narcissists are very comfortable in dark energy, manipulation and lies, and these kinds of processes – it’s the ground that they operate on. They are very comfortable in it, but we are not! It triggers us, and it freaks us out.

Then when you are triggered and freaking out, they can stand back and say, “Look at you! You are the problem, you’ve got anger issues, you are crazy, you need therapy.”

Narcissists will also find the perfect ammunition from your words in texts or emails – or they might even tape conversations, they will stoop that low. Then they can tell people what you were saying when you were massively triggered, and it allows them to do the whole thing of, “I’m the victim. This person is the bad, abusive one and they’re making my life a living hell.”

Narcissists love this drama! They love and are comfortable in the dark, distorted energy of what is going on inside them, which is all of those traumas and disowned parts and unhealed stuff. They love to dramatise it onto somebody else or spew it onto others – to flip the script.

By triggering others and then blaming them for all the problems, they can continue their exploitation, undetected. They can steal people’s souls, their life force, their resources, their property and their money.

Ultimately narcissists are parasitical beings and that is how they get away with it.


How To Stop Providing Narcissistic Supply

So how do you short-circuit this? The simple answer is – stop it! Stop it completely.

Stop participating in being their food source.

Stop granting them your triggers, or the evidence that they have triggered you. Stop granting them any energy, attention, or even a minute portion of your oxygen or your spirit.

By doing that, you make them non-existent. That is the ultimate insult to a narcissist, because it means they are nothing.

If you don’t react – if you don’t hand them any of your energy or attention – they’re nothing.

Here’s the truth. A narcissist is nothing anyway. There is no true self inside them. They only know that they are ‘some thing’ via the significance of getting other people’s energy. Without it, there is no inner self to fall back on.

Narcissists are a charade. They are a false self: an ego construct of falsities and deceptions; grandiose, unrealistic figments of their own imaginations about themselves.

They are cardboard cut-outs – nothing about a narcissist is based in reality and truth. They are nothing without your triggers being activated – ‘no thing’ at all.

Let’s look at some practical examples of how to achieve this.


Focus On Your Facts

First of all, stop going into details. We’ve all had the experience of trying to lecture and prescribe to a narcissist. It feels like you are trying to explain things to an adult that a five year old would understand about being a decent human being. So stop trying to teach them how to be a good person.

Instead, take a deep breath and recognize that no amount of lecturing, explaining and prescribing does anything positive. The narcissist doesn’t care about being a good person and they don’t want to learn. They are not even listening to that. They are simply getting off on seeing you triggered. So only respond with facts about you and the situation.

For example, let’s say a narcissist tries to change a parenting agreement with you, like a time, or a drop off or other agreement. Rather than lecturing or prescribing about being a good person and sticking to the agreement and having to do the right thing – forget all of that. They want you to do that, so instead, just say, “No. This is what I will accept. This is what I won’t accept.”

And then the narcissist will tell you that you’re a really bad parent. Don’t respond.

Don’t respond, because what you are saying to yourself is, “My opinion about me is rock solid and I don’t care what you think. This is what I will accept. This is what I won’t.”

To recap: no explaining, justifying or emotional reaction whatsoever. It’s just a short, sharp stating of your facts. The narcissist will then go for that trigger to try to derail you – and you just don’t even respond.



Live Your Truth

The next powerful tip is to realize the narcissist is never going to agree with your version of things, ever. It’s not what they are in your life to do.

So take another deep breath and recognize your growth and maturity is about realizing that nobody needs to give you permission to live your truth.

As an empowered adult who is getting self-actualized and self defined, nobody needs to agree with your truth. Only you do. And then you just be it and do it and live it.

Instead of trying to make other people agree with your truth and give you permission to live it – live it! It’s your God / Source given right to live your truth.

For instance, if you are separating from a narcissist and they are threatening to take 80% of the property, and are telling you all of the reasons why you should hand it over, and all of the reasons they’re entitled to it, etc. You say, “No, I am not giving you 80% of the property.”

They will then come out with every nasty accusation, threat, guilt trip, and retaliation you can imagine. They are not going to agree with your version of things – and they don’t have to. You do.

Which means you can simply walk away, with no more conversation. You do not hand over the money and you get on with your day. You keep building your case with facts and you refuse to go into fear. That’s it.


Be Your Authentic Self

Another powerful way that you insult the narcissist horrifically is by not buying into their cruel smear campaigns.

As sure as eggs are eggs, he or she is going to try to discredit you and draw other people into believing all sorts of horrible things about you – and of course these are usually things that the narcissist has done themselves.

But here it is – don’t bite, defend or go into retaliation at all. Instead, really anchor into and embody, “I know who I am. And if others don’t, that’s their business.”

Continue to be, and to demonstrate, the credible, real you that you are healing into, becoming, and taking on as your ascension and as your evolution. Anchor into that around anyone you are smeared to, including your children.

We have a lot of people in our Thriver community who are working really powerfully and diligently on this using my Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program (NARP). By doing so, they discover how quickly narcissistic smear campaigns fall to bits.

This is because fundamentally you are in an energetic, spiritual battle with a narcissist. That’s really what is going on and by trying to battle with their darkness, you are being infiltrated and impregnated with it.

This is not about trying to turn the darkness into light. This is about letting go of the darkness and becoming the light.

In this powerful soul graduation experience that you’re going through with a narcissist, without your emotional triggers the narcissist is an empty vessel – meaning there’s nothing to fuel up what they are trying to do to you. It all falls over. The narcissist comes undone and people quickly wake up to the truth.

When you don’t care, and you can authentically say, “I’m being me, and I’m giving myself permission to be me, regardless of what anybody else is or isn’t doing,” then you will see that the narcissist can’t succeed against you and everything will start to turn in your favour. Not because of what you are doing, or what you are trying to fix or change, but because you’ve fixed and changed on the inside.

That’s your power.

You don’t need to care what’s going on ‘out there’ because you are living as your solid inner self. You have given yourself permission to do that, you are doing the inner work to achieve that and you are being you, regardless.

At that point you are already free.

You will then be beautifully astounded and shocked at how Life and available others will join you, be with you, and bring you more support and resources than Life and others have ever brought to you before. That’s your evolution point.

This is the life myself and other Thrivers live, because we did the inner work on this and the outer application then came. We knew how to be: just to be ourselves.

This is why narcissists have no impact or influence in our lives whatsoever because they have become Not Our Reality. It’s like, “You can try and trigger or do whatever you want. I’m being myself. I don’t care what you think. I no longer need your permission and I no longer need to change your mind. I’m just going to set myself free by being me and my truth.”

Then you will see how powerless narcissists are.

So the goal for you is to become anti-fear.


Becoming Anti-Fear

Narcissists are great at controlling you and keeping you hooked through fear.

They work out what your inner fears are, such as your fears of abandonment, or being replaced by another, being alone, not being able to survive financially, maybe never finding real love again, or the terror of having to live without this person.

Whatever you most fear is what the narcissist will use against you. They will mess with and threaten the people and the things that are important to you, to really hook you into this.

So by letting go of them, and coming home to yourself by filling with your higher self and your truth, you will realize what true power is really all about.

Module eight of NARP is priceless for all of these things that the narcissist is triggering in an attempt to derail you and get you to hand over your power. And module eight in NARP is one of our most used modules.

People use it in the courtroom before they’re going into court cases; they use it if they’re being stalked; they use it if they’re going through custody battles. They use it in any and all of those times when they are triggered into the ‘what ifs’ of “what is this person going to do?” and “what are they capable of?” Because yes, narcissists are capable of anything, when we fearful of them.

When you do that inner work, the narcissist is horrified, drained, and exposed.

When you are no longer reacting emotionally, physically, or spiritually – in this spiritual battle – all of that bad, dark energy that they have been putting out there has got no place to land on you.

When you are not fueling the fire with your fears and your insecurities, the karma bus really does hit the narcissist. It all comes home, is returned to sender and they start unraveling. People see the truth in ways that will stun you as authorities, friends and families wake up to the lies. And the narcissist – no longer being able to trigger, hook you, and control you – ends up being terrified by your powerful, solid, authentic light.

It is a massive insult to them when they can’t trigger you. They have to get out of your energetic presence and your life faster than you could imagine. That’s why narcissists let go.

People ask, “Why doesn’t the narcissist let go? Do they ever let go?” Yes! When you claim your light, like a vampire with a bright light being shone on them, they have to run back into the shadows. They will get out of your life – and if getting out of your life means that they have to capitulate, finish up and settle, and give you what you want, then they do. The gig is up and the false self has no power. The little man or woman behind the curtain is fully exposed.


In Conclusion

This is the biggest insult to a narcissist, and so I want you to use it as a powerful mantra:

I know who I am and my truth. I’m no longer perturbed or dependent , caring about what you’ve done to me or what you think of me. I’ve come home to myself, and your abuse was my vehicle to get there. I’ve taken back my power and you are not my reality anymore. I have evolved beyond you.

That’s what narcissists hate. You don’t say that to them, you simply embody it and live it, and that’s the truth.

I hope that this has helped.

If you want to get to this place and graduate to that level to join me, then I’d love to help you get there, so please click on this link.

I really hope that this has made sense and inspired you to know that you are more powerful than you can ever imagine. That’s what this is about and this is your evolution. So until the next time, keep smiling, keep healing and keep thriving because there’s nothing else to do.

As always, I look forward to your comments below.


5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting During the New School Year.

5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting During the New School Year.

Co-parenting can be easier with these 5 tips for a successful New Year.  August is here, school is starting… NOW WHAT?

Whether you are newly Divorced, or a few years removed, it seems every school year raises new issues with parenting plans. 


The first step for successful co-parenting for back to school is reviewing the school calendar with your parenting plan.

Before school starts sit down -hopefully, face to face and with the kids (depending on age) to look at the school year. When are the 3-day weekends, when will holiday exchanges be, what extracurricular activities are the kids doing and who needs to take what kid where.

Get the kids excited about school. Show them you are dependable and FOLLOW THROUGH.

Consider apps such as Talking Parents or Google Docs to be able to share the kids calendars and schedules between parents and kids.

Realize in August that the school already planned your entire year!!!  Make sure each parent has login to school calendars, events, grades, and attendance.  Each parent must participate in holding kids accountable ESPECIALLY in two households!!


The second and very important tip for successful co-parenting during the school year is taking the time to meet your child’s teachers and staff.

Appreciate that your child is 1 of 20-30 kids in her class. By seeing a face, understanding where your child is when and knowing what your parenting plan and expectations are, your child will have a much better year. Set your kid up to succeed!

Make sure you know how to login to the child’s school portal or online information.

Make sure your child’s teachers know how to contact you both, or as orders specify, and the best way to communicate with you. Understand the homework and project expectations clearly. Most importantly take responsibility for your role in parenting your child during the school year.


Whether Christmas or Spring Break, the third tip for successful co-parenting for back to school is planning your school year vacations at the beginning of the school year.

Some parenting plans are particular about who has what school breaks and holidays. Others are TERRIBLE – no pickup drop times, not date specific, sometimes not even mentioned – yet in the emotions of the holidays some make the special time a nightmare for the kids.  Don’t be that parent.

Especially if you take the time to review the school schedule in early August, figure out who the kids are with each holiday for the year, talk about if you pl. to travel or not, consider the kids’ concerts, parties, tournaments, and social events. #Communicationiskey

Vacation time is meant to be quality time, less stress, and a time to reconnect with family.  YOU can make that happen by planning in advance!


Co-parenting is easier when you review the current language of your parenting plan to see if changes are needed or at least make sure everyone is on the same page for the year.

So often parents amend the court orders out of convenience or need without drafting, signing, and filing a Stipulation with the Court.  If anything happens, the Court will rely on the existing orders.

August is a great time to review your current parenting plan, assess the child support needed to properly support the children, and see what changes you need to help your children.


The fifth and final tip to successful co-parenting for the school year is to coordinate your personal and professional calendars with your children’s school and activity calendars. Regardless of whose day it is to parent, your children may need you both to participate in and enjoy their school year and activities.

I strongly suggest that the parent with the children should take the kids to the other parent if there is not a “meet in the middle” location. The other way usually seems to have the kids feeling the other parent is taking them away.

Kids these days engage in so many activities!  Some parenting plans are super clear on what parent is responsible. Other parents take the activities as “bonus” time to be with the kids, and are happy to coach, drive carpool or participate with the kids – regardless of who is parenting that day.

Do what is easiest!  Who lives closer? Whose work schedule is more accommodating? Who does your kid want to be with for that specific event? Jack loves playing basketball with me but likes having his dad at football practice more.  Anni would rather have her dad pick her up from school but prefers our girl lunches and show time together.

August is hard for everyone. Summer ends, school begins, and transition and stress is inevitable.  I hope this blog is helpful for you and your family!  Happy New Year!

The post 5 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting During the New School Year. appeared first on Divorced Moms.


back to school

5 Tips For Taking Back To School Hassles Out Of Co-Parenting

back to school


With school events, sports, and fall activities starting up soon, handling the communication about your children is a hassle when both parents live under the same roof. If you’re a divorced parent, it’s even more difficult.

However, keeping the lines of communication with your ex effective and positive while supporting your child is important, so parents need to make the extra effort to stay organized. How do you handle the communication when the stress of all the fall activities starts back up?

How To Take Back To School Hassles Out of Co-Parenting

1: Keep the school and teachers informed

Let teachers and school personnel know how to contact all the parents of your child. Explain how all the parents are involved and want to support their child’s education. Request that you will need two copies of letters, brochures, etc. Send the teacher an email with all pertinent emails and contact information so she can easily contact everyone.

2: Have ONE folder for both homes

In our family, each child has a folder that comes home with their school papers, and each night the parent they are staying with reads the papers, completes the assignment, initials it, and leaves it in the folder for the other parent to see. When both parents have seen it, it is trashed or sent back to school, if needed. We inform the teacher of our system so she’s aware of leaving the papers in the folder an extra day or so. If it is an urgent matter, we will take a picture using our phone and text it to the other parent to see.

3: Use the same visual reminders in both households

If you have a chore chart, it is easiest if you have the same one in both households so that the children know that the expectations are the same. Another trick that I use to help remind us of the school specials schedule is I make magnets for both homes with the specials listed for each day so that there is no confusion when they need to wear their sneakers or bring their library books to school. Use Pinterest to find little tricks to make organization quick and easy.

4: Use Technology

Find apps that make communication between divorced moms and dads easy. One app we use is FamilyWall. It allows us to share a calendar, pictures, and reminders for upcoming events.  We also all share a Google calendar as well. Our family uses FaceTime and MarcoPolo to chat with each other when the kids are at the other parent’s home. Most schools have an online grading system and online newsletters that all parents that register can review. Another app to track schedules is 2houses.

5 Track and Share Expenses

Back to school supplies can be very expensive, so keep receipts or split the cost between the parents. I buy my oldest daughter’s supplies while my ex-husband purchases our son’s items. We also split birthday party gifts when our children attend birthday parties. One month I buy the gift and the next month, he buys one. We agree to a set limit and purchase a gift at that amount. Some people prefer to track expenses and split the costs monthly. The app, 2houses, offers a way to track and manage expenses, in addition to tracking your schedules.

When both divorced parents have open and positive communication focused on the success of our children, it demonstrates that we support our children’s well-being. This is especially important during transitions. With kids returning to school shortly, it’s time to get organized- especially if you’re divorced or separated. If you’re struggling, find the support you need from a life coach or therapist to learn to communicate positively with your ex to make this transition as smooth as possible.

The post 5 Tips For Taking Back To School Hassles Out Of Co-Parenting appeared first on Divorced Moms.


child visitation after divorce

Child Visitation After Divorce: How My Narcissistic Ex Is Using It Against My Children

child visitation after divorce


My divorce never hit me. I was contently past all the stages of grief on the day of my divorce. I was free and so eager to start anew. (I even agreed to attempt reconciliation with my ex post-divorce, but that’s a story for another day.)

Some months later, I moved back to the town I had grown up in. My boys, then seven and eight, moved with me. It felt great to be starting fresh and to be surrounded by family and my childhood girlfriends again.

My boys and I did get the I’m-so-sorry-face from everyone we knew. But despite the catastrophe that others saw, I was relieved, happy, and shame-free to be divorced. I could breathe again, and my life was my own again. Or so I thought…

Given my move, I had agreed to my ex-husband, aka WASband, seeing our boys virtually every weekend and agreed that he could have the boys visit him at his home 400 miles away on any given weekend.

Child Visitation After Divorce

My ex abused my trust.

My WASband turned our flexible visitation agreement into a nightmare for my boys. He insisted that every visit be in Los Angeles in his world. I had agreed to this and he had a legal contract to enforce it.

So, our children traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles and then back again three to four weekends each month during the school year.

He didn’t care that virtually every Friday his children spent four hours or more traveling to him and four hours or more on Sundays traveling back.

He didn’t care if the children were sick.

He didn’t care if they missed the one and only birthday party they got invited to.

He didn’t care if they weren’t making friends at their new school.

He didn’t care if our son cried and cried over not being able to compete in his once-a-year Tae Kwon Do championship.

He didn’t care if their Friday flight was canceled by the airline. He made them take the 6:00 am flight on Saturday morning only to fly back on Sunday.

He didn’t care if the children were exhausted from all the travel.

He didn’t care if they couldn’t join the basketball team because of weekend games.

He just didn’t care. It was a zero-exceptions contract that I had agreed to.

My WASband’s words were, I am NOT willing to spend my custodial time in Northern California. There was intense hatred towards me in that single sentence. Each time I asked for some flexibility for our children, those words were written back to me in bigger, bolder font along with, My position hasn’t changed.

I had made a huge mistake.

I had willingly given a narcissist full discretion to decide where and how he spends time with our children assuming that he would be reasonable when it came to the children.

I don’t know if he saw their tears. I wiped them.

I don’t know if he heard their screams. Some days that’s all I heard.

He denied their pain. I couldn’t.

I don’t know if he realized their isolation. I saw it.

Over and over I begged a father to accommodate his children’s needs. Each time he refused.

There came a time when my children cried, I know the answer is no. The answer is always no. Then came a time when they no longer asked.

My ex now controlled the boys with custody.  

Spending his time with his children in Los Angeles trumped all else. He was blind to their physical health, their social development, and their emotions. He had to have control: It’s okay for [our son] to miss a birthday party in order to spend quality time with his father.

Of course, nothing was preventing this father from accompanying his son to this one and only birthday party that his son had been invited to all year.

And my ex also controlled me with custody.

When I mailed out a birthday card over summer break and asked my WASband to give the card to our son, my ex responded, “You should do that personally, meaning during your own custodial time.”

This was emotional abuse at its worst.

The control and emotional abuse I thought I had escaped resurfaced like a newer, stronger virus. This time, while aimed at me, it was infecting our children. The children weren’t doing well socially or emotionally.  Despite multiple pediatricians’ recommendations for immediate therapy for our children, my ex refused to consent.

Since the divorce and move my older son had begun to break out crying and screaming for no apparent reason. Of course, I knew the reason; he wasn’t coping well with his parent’s separation.

He was eight-years-old at the time and completely non-verbal about our divorce. He didn’t want to talk, or discuss, or listen to anything related to his mom and dad no longer living together.

Over the course of a year and a half, even after two pediatricians independently witnessed my older son have such an emotional meltdown including throwing himself around the room, my WASband maintained that my son didn’t need therapy.

The emotional outbursts became more frequent, became more intense and shifted from crying and screaming to also verbally threatening his family and physically hurting those around him.

Family court was a game of poker.

With no other resolution in sight, I turned to the Court for help. My children were in danger if nothing changed.

That journey through Court was long, expensive, and made unreasonably longer and more expensive by my ex on the other side. (During our eight-year marriage my ex had been in constant litigation all eight years; he sued all his business partners from multiple businesses, a dentist who voluntarily admitted a mistake, and an employee of a Fortune 500 company knowing the company would pay him damages just to avoid litigation).

I should have known better. My ex had no qualms or limits in abusing the legal system. He was an eye-for-an-eye man once he convinced himself that you had slighted him.

So, my ex showed up in Court with thick, oversized, zero-prescription eyeglasses and a bow tie to complete his geekiest Caltech persona. A charming serial entrepreneur with 20-20 vision (the one I had married) now sat disguised as a nerdy engineer in an effort to explain away his complete inflexibility in co-parenting his children.

He claimed he was an engineer who was scrambling to make ends meet and whose employer had been loaning him money for personal expenses. The fact was that he owned the company he worked for!

He showed virtually no income and no assets all the while affording private flying lessons, affording aircraft rentals, and paying his parents and extended family from business profits.

And so, a game of poker with the judges ensued. The first judge had enough common sense and provided temporary relief for the children from all the travel. This judge saw the thousands of pages of written communication between my ex and me as a complete breakdown of communication.

But he retired. Then a second judge with a completely different common sense, had me pay my ex’s attorney fees and didn’t bat an eye at the amount of travel our children were doing between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

This new judge wanted proof to correlate sickness to excessive travel. Common sense wasn’t good enough. This new judge saw the thousands of pages of written communication between my ex and me as normal negotiation.

This judge saw my wealth against my poor Caltech-graduate WASband with his fake glasses and bow tie, who had no car in his name, no property in his name, who for years had paid his company’s profits to his extended relatives.

In retaliation to me going to Court, my ex had convinced himself that he needed $30,000 per month to support our children. And since he could afford neither a car nor housing, he wanted me to now support a new lifestyle for him, complete with private jet travel, five-star hotels, and much more.

A third judge put an end to my ex’s non-sense; my WASband got his child support but an amount which I proposed to the Court based on facts instead of exaggerations. Disappointed with this outcome, my ex filed two more cases trying to get exorbitant amounts of money from me.

Those cases, while dismissed, still took an emotional and financial toll. I’ve learned now that it’s a matter of time before my WASband sues me again.

Court was a two-year war. And war is never good.

One of my sons got therapy after two years of jumping through all the Court’s hoops. My children’s travel was slightly reduced and many smaller issues were resolved. Yet the Court was fooled by a narcissist.

The Court didn’t approve therapy for my younger son because I didn’t have any evidence for its need. So, now a year later when my younger son says, “I will kill myself,” and my WASband still refuses therapy for him, am I to return to Court?

The Family Court that deals with divorced families and children couldn’t see this coming? I could.

This Court that also ordered my ex to spend the first weekend a month in Northern California because it coincided with the Tae Kwon Do schedule didn’t think to make it an order that my WASband actually take the children to these Tae Kwon Do events.

The Court couldn’t catch the narcissist in disguise. How am I to point out this mistake to the Court? With another trial and 2-year battle? No thank you.

Life, Uh, Finds a Way.

For nearly three years now, my children have been traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles nearly every weekend. Yes, it’s hard and unheard of, but the one weekend each month we have together is better than ever.

We miss most of the special school events, but we did go to one dance last year and I caught my boys on camera doing the Floss with their classmates!

We do miss most of the special Tae Kwon Do events, but every now and then the stars line up and we get to go to the one we get to go to!

We do miss most family get togethers, so now many of my nine first cousins go out of their way to have our children meet.

For over two years now, my WASband has been telling our children: Your mom is a liar. Her entire family lies. It’s her fault; she’s the one that divorced me. He shows them snippets of court documents to prove his story with evidence.

Sadly, my nine and ten-year-old children are versed in court vocabulary including evidence, exhibits, credibility, and legal contracts. My WASband tells my older son:  You go to therapy because you have mental problems. Your mom forced you to go to therapy.

You’ll be in therapy for your whole life.

You need to lose weight. You need to get in shape.

Are you trying to gain weight?

He tells our children: Do you have any Indian friends? I’ll arrange a playdate [on my visits to San Francisco] if your friends are Indian.

This type of abuse attacks every aspect of their lives. There may never be a respite from this.

My children began coming back to me on Sundays, especially after long holidays, and telling me: You’re a liar. A big fat liar because you don’t have any evidence. Daddy has evidence. I was caught off-guard, hurt, and defensive.

My co-parenting counselor (not to mention others) advised me to open up to my children, but mostly all I could say was: These are adult issues. Children shouldn’t be worried about these things. I will tell you when you’re seventeen or eighteen. Your Daddy loves you, but some of these things he is doing and saying are wrong. And he may never change. You have to be stronger.

After two years of this, there are still new frustrations, more confusion, and deeper wounds but my children are finding their way. They tell me: Mommy, you have to be stronger!

And I am stronger because I chose to be free. My marriage was bad and the aftermath of my divorce worse, but I am free. I’ve begun to learn to allow myself to resign all outcomes to a higher power when I need to.

I’ve learned that there’s nothing that can break me. I’ve been shattered more than once, and I’ve gotten up to collect and put myself back together each time. I don’t hate my ex; it’s as if my body or mind or soul has decided that this person doesn’t deserve even my hatred.

I pray for his peace of mind, I tell my children to send love towards Daddy, and I’ve never been one to pray. Whenever I remember, I tell my children to say something nice about someone else each night.

I’ve learned to hug and cuddle. My children wonder: Why have you gone all lovey-dovey. I suppose it’s because love is all that remains for me.

The post Child Visitation After Divorce: How My Narcissistic Ex Is Using It Against My Children appeared first on Divorced Moms.


co-parenting with a narcissist

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist Turned Me Into My Daughter’s Hero

co-parenting with a narcissist


Last Sunday I was in the kitchen working on meal prep for the week. I was slicing melons, plucking grapes from vines, and baking chicken breasts when an unexpected thing happened.

It was just my daughters and I home for the afternoon and they had both gravitated to the kitchen (probably the scent of chili-lime flavored chicken wafting through the house had something to do with it.) Before long we had found ourselves deep in conversation; about what, I couldn’t say now, but somehow we came to this:

My sixteen year old looked at me and said, “Mom, you are the strongest person I know. I look at everything you have gone through, picking yourself up after the divorce, being a single mom to two daughters, having to work hard to support us…  You showed us not to settle for less than what we deserve. I don’t think you realize how much we look up to you.”

Naturally, I teared up and if my soul could sigh, it would have done so at that exact moment.

We’ve been through a lot in these seven years post-divorce. There have been countless arguments, tears, hugs, and laughter. The girls are now twenty and sixteen, and while there was no DIY manual on how to cope when the man in your life walks out, somehow we have gotten here: blubbering in the kitchen over how proud we are to have survived together.

It’s been such a rough road for us three. The road started out pretty normal, freshly tarred to make for smooth sailing. Eventually, that perfect road experienced some pretty major frost heaves, frost heaves that popped us right out of the minivan of life and dragged us behind it for a spell; resulting in three pretty severe cases of road rash. Road rash hurts, both real and metaphorical. It hurts real bad.

One day I got tired of the frost heaves causing so much pain, so I put the brakes on, dusted everyone off, slapped some bag balm on the road rash and turned that minivan down a new road. This road had potholes, too, no road is perfect, but we were wiser this time, and we had the scars from the road rash to remind us to slow down and avoid the bad road if we could. So eventually we learned to see the signs of a road in need of repair and we began to detour whenever possible.

It seems like for the past year the road has been a bit more travel-friendly, and for that I am thankful.

There was a time when I didn’t know if my relationship with my girls would ever return to what it was before. Were the scars from the road rash just too much to fully recover from? It felt like it at times. Times when I couldn’t say or do anything right. Times when they judged me and resented me for choices I made and for things that were out of my control. I’m not talking about normal everyday adolescent squabbles with my children, it was something far beyond that.

I’ve read a lot of books, articles, and blogs about life after divorce, but I’m not sure any of us dare to truly delve into the ugly truth of single parenting. Even now, I only dance around the subject matter of co-parenting with a narcissist. The truth was knowing that anything that was said and done at my house could and would be used against me by the other side. For years I felt like I was being held captive in my own life and that my world could come crashing down at any moment due to crafty manipulation techniques.

Even when the efforts failed I felt the effects from my children. They would treat me differently until finally things would settle down and we could get back to our normal. It wasn’t their fault, they were children, and it certainly wasn’t fair for them to be caught in the middle of someone else’s sick games.

I struggled during those years. I struggled with my reality vs. the reality I longed for. I wanted simplicity and an honest life with my children. I resisted and pushed back when drama and lies crept in from the other side.

It wasn’t easy having a foot in two separate worlds; the world I had lived in with my children and the world I wanted to live in with them.

I kept on. I stayed true to my course. There were days when I wanted to scream and yell, and there were days when I did exactly that.

They said it will get better. They said, “Keep doing what you are doing because you are doing it right.”

And after looking into the eyes of my sixteen-year-old when she said, “Mom, you are my hero. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for everything we went through.”

I finally believe they were right.

For all the struggling mamas out there acting as mom and dad while trying not to lose yourself in the process, it does get better. There is hope for a happier, more peaceful existence with your kids, just don’t give up. Even more importantly, don’t give in to the dark side. Listen to your heart, trust your gut, and love those little cherubs of yours with everything you have.

I have no false pretenses on perfectly paved roads of the future, in fact, I am well aware that at any moment I could get bucked right out of the minivan again and suffer a fresh case of the rash. The knowledge that at any moment we are one incident away from turmoil, and I could be cast back into the role of the villain always resides in the back of my mind. But the older they get, the wiser they are becoming and I keep praying that they always see truth above everything else.

At the end of the day, at least now I know with certainty that underneath all of the muck and mire resides a strong foundation of truth and integrity that we built together. And as for that road rash… it gave us some pretty beautiful scars that only the three of us can see. It taught us more than I can even begin to quantify with words.

As we stood around the kitchen that afternoon we shared memories of one horrible summer that we all now agree has become one of our favorite summers together. I never would have guessed all those years ago that some of the worst days of our lives could have bonded my girls and I so closely that we could turn it into such a positive and sacred memory.

Never underestimate the power of the road rash and the beauty of its scars.

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Divorce Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips For Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

Divorce Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips For Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

5 Tips for Co-Parenting With a Narcissist

The word “narcissist” gets a lot of use these days. It seems everyone with an irrational ex is divorced from a narcissist. That’s doubtful! So, why did I title this guide, “Co-Parenting with a Narcissist? Because, whether your ex is a narcissist or nothing more than a common, garden variety jerk if he is giving you a hard time co-parenting and causing your children emotional harm, this video is for you.

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist Tips:

1. Don’t Allow Him to push your buttons

That is his number one goal! Don’t allow him to succeed. He wants to cause you to respond to him with anger. He wants you to appear as angry and irrational as he is. If you do, you give him ammunition to use against you in court, with his family and his friends.

He was married to you long enough to know your vulnerabilities and which buttons to push. He is adept at getting you worked up and he knows it. If you allow yourself to overreact to his nonsense you’re giving him exactly what he wants and the last thing you want is to give him any satisfaction. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to cool yourself down and ignore him.

2. Use Reverse Pronouns

Narcissists project, nearly every statement they make is a projection of something they fear. Example: If he says, “You’re a terrible mother who is going to ruin her children’s lives.” What he really means is, “I’m a terrible parent who is going to ruin his children’s lives. If you reverse those pronouns and understand the degree of his projection it will free you up from feeling like you need to defend yourself or concern yourself with what he thinks.

3. Lower your Expectations of Him

He is never going to be a good co-parent, stop hoping he will. What you have now, is what you’re stuck with. There is nothing you can do that will cause him to magically one day become the perfect co-parent so don’t waste your time and energy on hoping he will change.

4. Set Communication Boundaries

Communicate via email only. If you’re able to use a communication software like Our Family Wizard to keep track of and document all email communications with him.

No texting, phone calls or in-person communication about child-related issues. If all child-related issues are discussed via email and a legal issue comes up, you have documented proof to use in court.

5. Grey Rock Him 

What does this mean? NO personal interaction, NONE. If you’re around him, do not acknowledge him. Do not attend school functions together. If you both happen to be in the same place at the same time, ignore him.

Have minimal communication and only via email. Respond to his emails with 2 or 3 words. If he emails and says, “I’m sick and can’t take the children this weekend.” Respond back and simply say, “Understand.”

He no longer exists to you other than some being in the clouds that you converse with as little as possible.

Last but Not Least

Be a good Mom to both your children and him! He is, after all, nothing more than an emotionally stunted child.

The post Divorce Tip Tuesday: 5 Tips For Co-Parenting With a Narcissist appeared first on Divorced Moms.


Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution

Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution

Wait, what? Isn’t January 1st the time to make those grand plans to improve our life? Too often, people make New Year’s resolutions that are too broad and too overwhelming to succeed. This can be especially true with something as inherently complicated as divorce co-parenting.

The post Don’t Make Divorce Co-Parenting Your New Year’s Resolution appeared first on Divorce Magazine.


gatekeeper mom

4 Reasons To Avoid Being a Gatekeeper Mom Trap During Divorce

gatekeeper mom


Do you find yourself having difficulty letting go and relaxing about what your children do while they are with their other parent? Focusing too much on your children’s time or activities at your ex’s house can potentially damage your relationship with them and undermine their connection with both parents. When a parent communicates anxiety and becomes too vigilant about custody exchanges (or parenting time) they may be taking on the role of a gatekeeper.

What is a gatekeeper mom?

According to child custody expert Robert Beilin, P.h.D., a gatekeeper is a term  often used in a negative way to describe how parents (usually a mother) attempts to control their children’s time with the other parent. Since traditionally mothers tend to be gatekeepers, this article will focus on mothers but the term could apply to fathers as well.

According to author Kerri Kettle, the term “gatekeeper” is generally brought up in child custody cases. Kettle, an attorney, advises mothers to beware of being a gatekeeper and to avoid adversarial interactions with their ex. After all, it could lead to additional legal costs and have a negative impact on children. She writes, “If you think you might be acting a little like a gatekeeper, try saying “yes” more often than saying “no” for a while. Start with something small, like giving up a few hours of your custodial time for a special occasion or simply not asking questions about what happened at their dad’s house.” She also advises parents that they will save legal fees by being a cooperative co-parent.

Let’s face it, it’s easy to see how a parent could slip into the gatekeeper role. After my divorce, I had trouble adjusting to our co-parenting schedule and I found myself overly concerned about what my children did when they were with their father and the amount of time they spent with him. It took several years for me to realize that this was my way of trying to gain control over the situation. While I never did anything consciously to sabotage my children’s relationship with their dad, my questions, and concerns about their activities with him didn’t demonstrate confidence in our parenting plan.

Further, children have a way of sensing tension and worry and so a mother’s fear or concerns about time spent away from her may be a red flag that heightens their anxiety. Without awareness, a parent could be bringing undue stress on your children without intending to. My research shows that the two variables that had the most negative impact on children of divorce into adulthood were limiting their access to both parents and experiencing high conflict between their parents post-divorce.

A crucial aspect of healing after divorce is realizing that you can’t control what goes on with your ex and so need to respect the decisions that he makes regarding his time with your children.  You can’t change him and are wise to let go of unrealistic expectations. For instance, you might not approve of him taking your eight-year-old to a movie rated PG 13 – but in the end, it’s not going to make or break their emotional development. So it wouldn’t hurt to simply let it slide sometimes.

On the other hand, if you have legitimate concerns about activities that your kids participate in with their father, it’s a good idea to send him a friendly, business-like e-mail expressing your concerns. Divorce expert Rosalind Seddacca CCT writes, “If you’re intent on creating a child-centered divorce that strives for harmony between you and your ex, you need to initiate the conversation and model win-win solutions. If your ex doesn’t want to cooperate, that’s when your patience will certainly be tested. Look for opportunities to clarify why working together as co-parents as often as possible will create far better outcomes for your children.”

Eileen Coen, an attorney, and trained mediator states that one reason mothers tend to be gatekeepers is that trust is often lost in a marriage. Other reasons cited by Coen are economic and a lack of confidence in their ex’s parenting skills. However, she cautions us that on-going conflict between parents is the primary reason why mothers are gatekeepers – making it virtually impossible to have adequate, healthy parenting time with their children.

Studies show that kids benefit from access to both parents. There is evidence that cooperative co-parenting actually reduces conflict between divorced parents – which has a beneficial impact on children into adulthood. Scheduling appropriate parenting time for both parent’s post-divorce and keeping lines of communication positive can be a challenge but it’s paramount to building resiliency in your children. When a parent takes on the role of gatekeeper, they communicate discomfort and anxiety to their children and diminish their sense of belongingness with both parents.

Joan Kelly, a renowned researcher who has conducted decades-long studies on divorce, found that the more involved fathers are post-split, the better off the outcomes for children. Children benefit from strong relationships with both parents post-divorce. According to Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters, the child’s relationship with their father is often the one that changes the most after marital dissolution. Sadly, Dr. Nielsen notes that only 15% of fathers and daughters enjoy the benefits of shared parenting.

There are many compelling reasons why mothers are wise to encourage their children to have strong bonds with their father post-divorce. Studies show that these reasons include: Better grades and social skills, healthy emotional development, higher self-esteem, and fewer trust issues. Lowered self-esteem and trust wounds are especially a concern for girls who may be more vulnerable to the breakup of the family home because they are socialized to be nurturers and caretakers. Your kids may also have better access to extended family members and therefore intergenerational support if they spend close to equal time with both parents.

Here are 4 Reasons to avoid the gatekeeper trap:

1. Your children will gain trust in both parents and feel more confident about their relationships with both of you.

2. You will build trust in your ex’s ability to effectively parent your children.

3. There’s a possibility you’ll have the added benefit of more leisure time – when you can relax and worry less about your children’s well-being.

4. You’ll create a new story for your life built on reclaiming your personal power rather than letting your divorce define who you are or the choices you make.

Focusing your energy on what’s going on in your home and encouraging your children to have a healthy connection with their father will pay off in the long run. Another important reason to avoid being a gatekeeper is to respect your child’s and ex-spouse’s boundaries. When your children are with your ex, honor their time together and try not to plan activities or partake in excessive communication with the other parent (phone, text, etc.). Since parental conflict is a factor that contributes greatly to negative outcomes for children after divorce, keeping disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping your child become resilient. You owe it to yourself and your children to avoid playing the role of a gatekeeper.

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negative post-divorce feelings

Negative Post-Divorce Feelings: One Day They’re Going To Get The Best Of Me

negative post-divorce feelings


I’m a divorced mom who has shared custody of an 8-year-old girl. I have a good job, great friends, own a house, and am generally happy.

However, I have personal issues that I am working on that I constantly hope will resolve faster. I own it, I mostly hate it, and I’m working through it.

I have guilt, I have entitlement, and I have anger. One day, one of those three things is going to get the better of me.

Negative Post-Divorce Feelings I Have:


I want more for my daughter. I want her to have the happiest easiest life. I want her to walk to school and have friends and play and go to birthday parties and sleepovers. I want her to worry about kid things like her best friend has more scrunchies than her, or that she didn’t know who to sit with at lunch in the cafeteria.

I don’t want her to worry about which parent she will be with for the first day of school, or her birthday, or the holidays. When our neighbors have birthday parties for their kids, it might be a weekend she is with her dad. There is always a 50% chance.  She misses out, and I don’t want my beautiful girl to miss out on anything.

She has to worry about her homework and if her piano music got copied and sent to dad’s house. Are her favorite shoes at mom’s house? Because she wants to wear them to a party. It breaks my heart that I can’t give her the life that other parents can, by providing one home that she lives in and can thrive in, as opposed to two.


This is a big one. I endured a lot in my short marriage. Excessive drinking, lying, and infidelity. My ex-husband had an affair my entire pregnancy and left me to fend for myself. When he was around, he was not a nice person. He made his resentments very well known to me.

The night before my daughter was born, the San Jose Sharks were in the playoffs. I was to be induced the next day. I told him I was making a special dinner for us since it is our last night before the baby comes. He left work, stopped at the bar for a drink, and came home to find out that I had recorded the wrong channel. I recorded the news instead of the Sharks game. He had a massive tantrum, including yelling at me that I can’t do anything right, I am useless, and for God’s sake, I’m not even wearing TEAL.

I cried, and packed a bag and spent the night in a hotel so I could have a peaceful night before giving birth. After being induced, 72 hours of labor, hemorrhaging and needing emergency surgery and a blood transfusion, I had my baby. She was perfect.

So yes, shouldn’t I be entitled to have my own daughter on her birthday? Not every other year, but every year. Shouldn’t I get to raise her and love her and be with her daily? The law says that no, I shouldn’t. That his genetic material made up 50% of our daughter, so he gets 50% of her. On good days I am glad she has a good relationship with him. On bad days, I don’t think he even deserves the title of father since he was such a jerk during my pregnancy and her first couple of months.

I think I deserve more time with her. That am entitled to more. Did he have hyperemesis during pregnancy and was bedridden? Nope, that was me. Did he almost die during labor? Nope, me again. Did he party and binge drink, and sleep with another woman for months while I was sick and alone? Yes, he did.  Entitlement is a killer, and at times I think it eats at my soul.


I left my husband twice. The first time when my daughter was 6 weeks old when I discovered his long involved affair.  When my daughter was a year old, I decided to try a relationship with her dad again since he appeared so remorseful and made great strides in cleaning up his life. That lasted about 2 years before the binge drinking, blacking out, and other precarious outings with women started.

He was drunk driving quite a bit. His behavior was erratic. I wanted to fix up my daughter’s room by painting the walls and getting some cute little decals. He had a tantrum and said she wasn’t worth it, and he refused to spend the money and demanded I return everything I bought. The last night we were ever living together as a married couple, a policeman had to pick my little girl out of her crib in her onesie pajamas, and told me I had 5 minutes to get a go-bag since my husband was so drunk the police officer said he was not to be trusted.

I was in such a hysterical state, that I packed my car with my daughter, our dog, and a bag filled with shoes. SHOES. Nothing else. That is how crazy an incident like that can make a person. I left him and went to stay with my parents and told him I would be back in one week and he better have found another place to live by then.

Do you want to know what this horrible human being did?

He went to rehab.

He started rehab 2 days after my daughter and I left. He has been sober for almost 5 years now. He has a great job, a house, two cars, a boat, and is president of the PTA. I can’t even make this stuff up. I am grateful every day that he is healthy and seemingly happy and has stepped up as a father. He wants to be involved in everything that our kiddo does. He drives on field trips, he takes her on vacations, and he has taken her to more playoff games for Bay Area sports teams than most grown adults have gone to.

So why am I so angry?

Because he put me through hell. I have sheltered my daughter from any of it so her father and I can sit next to each other at her dance recitals or gymnastics classes. I have bitten my tongue and sacrificed my daunting ego so that she has a loving relationship with her father.

The jerk who came to the baby classes drunk is now the head of the PTA.  He has a girlfriend of several years and they take my daughter on trips together. They take her to church. They painted her room at her dad’s house pink. She has a cute bedspread and a ton of toys, and a basketball hoop him the backyard at his house.

She loves her dad. Which on good days I am so grateful for. So when I have Christmas every other year alone watching Netflix, and eating copious amounts of ice cream, I get angry. Angry at him for being so great now, angry at myself for putting up with so much, angry at all the happy families that are spending Christmas together. Just plain angry.

My ex-husband and I still argue. We still have disagreements about custody and money. Our daughter has no idea, and we are able to sit together at school functions without clawing at each other’s eyes.  I am several years in as a divorced mom, but it honestly feels like this journey just started. Like I should be farther along than I am.

I should be happy for my ex-husband. I should be enjoying my free time more, I should be traveling, going out, laughing. Sometimes I am doing great; however, sometimes I am missing my daughter and I don’t know who I am without her. Everyone says it gets better, and sharing custody gets easier. After several years as a co-parent, I shouldn’t have so much guilt, I shouldn’t be so entitled, and I shouldn’t be angry.

But it is my process and my truth. And I can decide to let it get the better of me, or thrive.

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