When parents get a divorce they can stop being husband and wife, but they cannot stop being parents. I often see parents forget that a divorce doesn’t stop the need for them to work together as parents. You may not like each other and you don’t have to, but you have to figure out how you are going to co-parent together.
Often I am working with children who are being placed in the middle. The child is expected to pass messages back and forth between the parents. So for example, dad well say don’t forget to tell your mother about baseball practice. It is not the child’s responsibility to relay messages. As parents you must communicate with each other. If you have a difficult time talking in person or by telephone use email. If you are having problems with your personal emails where someone said they never received an email. Many counties now have a program called “The Family Wizard” and it tracks emails and you can allow professionals to monitor the emails if you wish. The most important thing is you find a way to communicate.
I also see children being put in the role of therapist or best friend. Parents feel overwhelmed or are angry about the divorce process or results and that start talking to their child about “what your mother or father did.” This is not a child’s role. Furthermore, all divorces have an order not to discuss the issues with the children. If you need someone to speak to try going to therapy. If your child is asking questions, simply say that is an adult issue and they don’t need to worry about it.
Another major issue I see working with children in therapy is financial. Who is going to pay for baseball sign ups, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts etc. often father’s feel they don’t need to pay because they pay child support. Don’t put your child in the middle of these arguments. Your child is the one who gets hurt and they will choose to stop doing outside activities because they don’t want the argument. The are points on both sides, but remember you want to do what is best for your child. While you are going through the divorce process it is a good idea to discuss these financial issues and decide how to handle them. Also come up with a plan for how you will discuss financial issues that come up after the divorce that you have not thought about during the divorce. If you are already divorce and having these issues, look at going to a therapist that specializes in co-parenting. This therapist will be familiar with these issues and can assist you work through these issues. The main point is you don’t want to put your child in the middle and you want to do what is best for your child.
Remember, when you get a divorce you stop being husband and wife but you don’t stop being parents to your children. If you don’t want the divorce to have a negative impact on your children then you must learn how to co-parent. This means the two of you work together to make parenting decisions and you don’t put your child in the middle. The goal is that your child is not even aware of these tensions. It is not easy, but there are professionals that can help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with people dealing with high conflict divorces. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com