Effective Parenting After Divorce
Your choices and behaviors in parenting
can have an enormous impact on your children’s adjustment to
the losses and stresses of your divorce or separation.
What Parenting Research Tells Us Works
Overall, the children who do best after
divorce and separation are those, whose parents
Suggestions For After-Divorce Parenting
Accordingly, consider the following as
parenting behaviors to avoid, or helpful behaviors to support the
well-being of your children as you create a post-divorce
Parenting Behaviors and Strategies to Avoid
Don’t play “the blame game”
around your children, recounting in their presence, one-sided
views for the reasons for the divorce, or assailing the
other parent for behaviors and issues that arise after the
Don’t allow your children to become
your caretaker or confidant. Rely instead on your friends,
adult family members and mental health professionals for
your support. Managing your emotional or social adjustment
to divorce is your responsibility as an adult. Your
children should remain free to be children, and to
concentrate on their friends, school work and activities.
Don’t overreact if your children
begin to act differently for a period of time. Many
children react to the stress of divorce by regressing from
established and more age-appropriate behaviors. However,
if those behaviors persist for several months after the
divorce, consulting a professional is prudent.
Positive Parenting Behaviors and Strategies
Do give the other parent “the
benefit of the doubt” and a private opportunity to
respond to troubling reports made by children. Children
sometimes exaggerate issues, distort facts or even
fabricate information about the other parent. Such
behavior may be an effort to bond with the parent they are
with at the time. And, children may even unconsciously
seek to re-involve you and the other parent in dialog
(even a “fight” can be perceived by children as a
re-connecting of their estranged parents), with some hoped-for
chance for your reconciliation. And, of course, even
children of intact families seek to manipulate parents to
meet their own ends.
Do encourage interaction between your
children and the extended family of the other parent.
Parents’ divorce or separation should not displace
children’s important relationships with their
grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Do remember that effective
communication requires: listening, tolerance, honesty,
consideration, empathy, and respect. A little humor can go
a long way in such efforts, as well!
Do some reading and educate yourself
on the special challenges of this period in your life.
Divorce or separation is not something about which you
will have all the answers: it may be new to you, and it is
always difficult. See our comprehensive guide to
books on divorce and
Other Parenting Resources
Fortunately, there is now an extensive
body of good information and research on children and divorce.
If you desire further information about choices and strategies
in parenting after separation or divorce, consider the other
resource recommendations and suggestions of this
Colorado Parenting and Divorce Family Resources section of our website.
In addition, we are happy to
make referrals to you of Colorado therapists and counselors in
your area who are well-respected and regarded as experts in
divorce and children’s issues.