Making Decisions During Divorce
by Dr. Michael Rubino | Rubino Counseling Services | Pleasant Hill, CA
As a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers, I have worked on many high-conflict divorces. I have been the therapist for the children, an expert witness regarding custody, worked on mediation teams, and served as a 730 court-appointed expert regarding custody and visitation. In these roles there is a common issue I have encountered: Making decisions.
Divorce cases become vicious when one parent is reluctant to make decisions. They feel they have made too many concessions already. The decisions become a matter of pride rather than what is in everyone’s best interest.
I meet with parents to tell them how their children are handling the divorce. Inevitably, within the first half-hour the parents tell me how unfair the divorce has become, how much it has cost them, and that they’re running out of money. Mothers believe the courts and attorneys are unfair toward mothers; fathers believe the courts and attorneys are unfair toward fathers. The children feel like they are in the middle of a civil war and that they need to pick a side. The stress causes them to have difficulties with their school work and their parents. Teenagers often begin using alcohol or drugs as a temporary escape from the stress. Younger children usually start reporting stomachaches and headaches and often start to wet their beds at night again.
I encourage parents to take a step back and look at the entire situation. What is the divorce costing them financially, emotionally? More importantly, what is the divorce costing their children emotionally in the short-term and long-term? I ask: Is the price worth the fight? Is it worth damaging the relationship with your children and how your children will view relationships for the rest of their lives? Are you causing irreparable damage to the relationship with your spouse? After the divorce is finalized, will you be able to co-parent together?
For the sake of their children, I encourage parents to put their egos away. I encourage them to imagine how their children are feeling and will feel if the fighting continues. I recommend that when making decisions, such as child support calculations and visitation schedules, to put your pride aside and do what is best for your children. This is a save-all in all high-conflict divorces except when domestic violence, child abuse, or severe substance abuse is an issue and a different approach is required. It is your responsibility as a parent to seek an amicable resolution that paves the way for successful co-parenting.
Dr. Michael Rubino has worked with children, teenagers and divorce cases for over 19 years. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino, visit his website http://www.rcs-ca.com or Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RubinoTherapy.