Parent Awareness when Going Through a Divorce

I teach a parenting class for parents going through divorce. I ask for comments on my evaluation sheets, and some of the comments include: “This is a complete waste of my time.” “I don’t need to know how to parent my child.” “I hate that the State is interfering in my business.” These are the parents who sit through the two hour class, sometimes dozing, sometimes texting, sometimes talking. They really don’t realize that the information they could be getting could help them interact more positively with the child or in front of the child. They don’t understand the importance of not bad-mouthing the other parent to the child. Children are made up of two parents. When you tell them they other parent is bad or unlovable, they hear “I am bad or unlovable.” Children often feel responsible for their parents’ divorce. They say they have seen movies or pictures of their parents when they were first together, before they had kids, and they looked happy. I try to help parents understand that I know they are unhappy or angry, but the kids are so impressionable and can so easily be hurt during this time, and their hurts can last a lifetime. When one parent tries to alienate the child from the other on purpose, it tends to backfire in the long run. The winds up aligned with the previously alienated parent and turns against the alienator. If I can give parents one piece of advice, it is “the greatest gift you can give your children during this time is permission to love their other parent.”

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