Children need to know and be cared for by both parents, if at all possible. Children want to love and respect each of their parents. Understanding and applying this principle will do more to help your child facilitate a healthy adjustment to your divorce than anything else you can do. You can probably think of a dozen reasons why your former spouse does not deserve to be respected and liked-look at the way he or she treated you! The less you push this view on your child, however, the better able he or she will be to form an independent evaluation of the other parent. If your former spouse really has despicable characteristics, your child will eventually learn about them firsthand and therefore will be less likely to blame you for them.
You and your former partner will both have to make adjustments to accommodate your separation, and so will your children. Being from a divorced family is not like being from an intact family. For instance, it is important for all parties to recognize and accept their responsibility for communicating their own needs and desires to each other. Learning to express his or her feelings, ideas, and plans to both parents will not only help your child develop an adult relationship with you both but will also prepare the child for communicating his or her needs and desires to others, both now and later in life. This does not mean, however, that you have license to communicate your issues through the child. Parents must communicate directly with each other and refrain from using their children as messengers or spies.
In most post-divorce squabbles, the child's welfare is not being truly threatened-except from the stress engendered by being involved in ongoing bitter parental conflicts. If a child sleeps in a sleeping bag for a weekend or eats peanut butter for dinner, his or her safety is not jeopardized. If a child misses church or stays up until midnight on Saturday night, his or her future is not at risk. If a child is required to dress up (or down) when visiting the other parent, it will cause no permanent damage. If children occasionally have to miss an extended-family party because they are with their other parent, no one is going to die. These examples may include some practices of which you do not approve; it is certainly all right not to approve or like what the other parent does. You are probably divorced because you didn't agree on many issues and ideas. You do not, however, have a right to try to control what your child does with the other parent. In divorce, both parents lose some control of parenting. If you can accept this fact, you will create a better emotional atmosphere for both yourself and your children.
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“One of the best gift’s you can give your child in a divorce is to quietly give them permission to love the other parent.”