https://www.kendolan-delvecchio.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/massppeal-1.jpg 334 600 Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio https://www.kendolan-delvecchio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Ken-Dolan2-1-1.png Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio2019-07-02 14:25:362020-04-01 16:13:38Respecting Your Child’s Other Parent - Mass Appeal
- As you are well aware, many marriages and other intimate relationships into which children are born or adopted do not weather the tests of time.
- Also, some parents do not legally separate but nonetheless leave their intimate partnership behind. Their marriage persists in name only and the cohabitation that lingers may resemble anything from friendly roommates sharing a home to hostile combatants in a cold war-style standoff.
- Whatever the situation—from wedded bliss, to frozen stalemate, to post-divorce calm—children deserve protection from the stress of whatever disagreements parents have with one another.
- Children also deserve assurances that both of their parents have their best interests at heart, provided, of course, that this is true.
- Recommendations for helping children feel supported through their parents’ separation and divorce follow.
- Great parents never lose sight of their child’s needs. They recognize that, unless their co-parent has been abusive, neglectful, or entirely absent, their child needs the love and support of both parents as well as any other adults who have played a parent-like role in their child’s life. This may include grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors who have become “like family.”
- Great parents do nothing to disparage these individuals who mean so much to their child. On the contrary, they regularly voices their respect and admiration for the role such people play in their child’s life and the value their child places upon them. This starts at the moment parents first announce to their child their forthcoming separation:
- “While the two of us will no longer be living together, we both love you with all our hearts and will take care of you as we always have.”
- “Sometimes parents decide they can’t continue to live together and stay married but that doesn’t change how much they love their child, and it doesn’t change the way we’ll work together to be the best parents you could possibly have.”
- “We will always respect one another and stay partners when it comes to taking care of you. That will never change.”
- “Also, because kids often feel like they are responsible for way too many things, we want to make sure that you know that you are absolutely NOT responsible even a tiny bit for our decision to separate.”
Messages like those above give reassurance, but it takes follow-through to make it real. Below are some examples of what that looks like:
- Absolute consistency with child support and alimony payments. In situations where alimony applies, the payer may keep in mind the benefits for their child. Specifically, a co-parent who receives enough income to support themselves feels less stress and can therefore devote energy to caring for their child.
- Kindness and respect voiced to and about your ex. This conveys to your child that you have faith in their other parent’s competence and parenting skills, helping your child feel more secure.
- Never asking your child to report on their other parent’s behavior. This offers your child many benefits. Similar to the above, it conveys a respect for the other parent’s competence and this reassures your child. It also conveys a respect for your co-parent’s privacy, which at the same time teaches your child about the importance of your privacy and their own as well. Finally, imagine for a moment what it would be like to be in your child’s position. How would it feel to be expected to spy on one parent for the other? How would this make you feel about both parents? How would it affect your overall level of stress? As you grew toward adulthood, what would this experience have taught you about the use of surveillance as a way to control your intimate partner?
- Communicating directly with your child’s other parent about matters involving your child rather than asking the child to carry messages on your behalf. A child who knows that his or her parents maintain direct contact, reach consensus, and provide consistent parenting, knows a kind of security that all children deserve. Placing your child in the middle of their parent’s relationship benefits nobody.
- Staying enthusiastically involved with your child’s life. This means knowing their changing likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams; regularly spending time with them; giving lots of undivided attention, and listening carefully to what they have to say.
- Your sincere engagement and emotional support will strengthen your child and be remembered always.