Parenting Success

Common Family Reactions to Divorce

“I’ll go live with…  (the other parent)!”  This is a common statement made by children when they are angry.  It has NOTHING to do with where they want to live.  What the child is saying is that she/he is angry with you and is using this way to express his/her anger (like the 2-year-old who says, “I don’t like you anymore!”).  Don’t respond by saying, “Go live with…  (the other parent) then”, – that is missing the point and saying it’s NOT okay to be angry.  DO say, “I know you are angry with me right now.”

“You’re just like…  (the other parent).”  This happens when the child does something negative that reminds the parent of the ex-spouse.  The parent gets unreasonable, angry, rejecting, and is fearful that the child will grow up to be exactly like all the bad parts of the ex.  This is NOT true; the parent is forgetting that it is okay and normal for a child to act like a child – it was NOT okay for the ex-spouse to act like a child.

Over-indulging the child.  Do set reasonable and consistent limits for your children.  Over-indulging your children only adds to the confusion.  You can increase your child’s sense of security by making rules simple, expectations clear and consequences clear and appropriate.

Feeling like a failure.  DO FORGIVE YOURSELF AND YOUR EX.  Concentrate on rearing your children in a healthy manner.  Rejecting yourself as a failure will only make life more difficult for you and for your children.  All normal people make mistakes.  Choose to learn from these mistakes, and not be overcome by them.

Using your child to meet companionship needs.  DO develop adult relationships to meet your need for companionship; DON’T use your children to meet this need.  Allowing your child to sleep with you or burdening him/her with YOUR problems can eventually lead to emotional problems for the child.

Feeling that your child should be loyal to you.  DO reassure your child that it is okay to love both parents.  Children cannot choose one parent over another because their own identity includes aspects of both parents.  Rejecting a parent means rejecting or feeling badly about a part of themselves.

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