Written by Audrey Silcox
THE AMERICAN DREAM – Most everyone strives to achieve it. Who created the model describing the dream? Many who answer say it’s the economy, media, friends, family and other society factors which contribute to what the determining factors are for this dream. Everyone ranks the order differently but the result is usually the same. Nearly everyone envisions the white picket fence with the perfect home and children, but no one perceives that divorce may wipe away the American dream desired by everyone.
There are 2.8 million adults affected by divorce currently in the U.S. according to ABC News May 13, 2011. Half of all American children will witness the breakup of parent’s marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.” (Furstenberg, Peterson, Nord, and Zill, “Life Course”) Among the millions of children who have seen their parents’ divorce, one of every 10 will also live through three or more parental marriage breakups. (The Abolition of Marriage, Gallagher)
Most cannot envision divorce itself nor the aftermath of divorce that may be even more stressful that the divorce itself. Children born of the marriage are often placed in the midst of parent’s strife only wishing to love both parents. Parents may become so bitter that emphasis on hate is placed more toward the other parent than making healthy choices and decisions for the sake of their children.
Examples of self-centered thus unhealthy decisions parents make after divorce:
- Using the children as messengers. Due to high conflict, when parents engage in conversation, it is common for them to avoid direct communication with one another. When children are part of divorce, co-parenting requires communication to occur. To minimize conflict, parents often ask children to “tell” the other parent information, thus communicating for them. The problem for children is when the message is verbalized; the other parent usually displays emotions of anger due to the content of the message. This parent may even belittle the other parent and the children are placed in the middle of a loyalty conflict. The children may also worry if the parent’s emotions are directed to them when conveying the message. Using children as messengers creates more harm than good. Finding ways to communicate in a healthy manner is imperative for a co-parenting relationship. Utilizing email which creates a documented reference of the conversation may be wise.
- Requiring the children to have two birthday parties when both parents live in the same geographical area. It is heart wrenching when two people who once loved each other enough to bring children into the world now hate each other so much that they cannot honor their child’s birth together. The child may be confused as to why all their friends have one birthday party and they must have two - one for mom and another for dad – making sure that both parents are happy. Options for birthday parties may include mom having the party in odd years and dad in even years if the parents refuse to be together or have a restraining order in place and cannot.
- Arguing in the presence of the children. During my work experience, I have heard many children complain how parents argue when transitions between homes occur. One story that I will never forget is how the anxiety that was created by transitions and parental arguing created so much stress for her that she pulled her hair almost completely out. Everyone has a right to their feelings, even parents but learning to keep anger out of the picture when it involves co-parenting of the children can save much heartache and stress for all involved. Placing the children’s needs above your emotions must become priority.
Divorce Tool Box understands the process of divorce and the learning curve involved in the midst of co-parenting. Allow our online program to help you with divorce and co-parenting issues. Visit our website www.divorcetoolbox.com today to learn more.