Coping With Divorce and Dealing With Children

Divorce is a painful and traumatic experience for everyone involved. Unfortunately, more than fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce.  http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/  
The wounds and scars left by the experience affect husbands, wives, children and the families and friends involved with the former couple and their children.
Perhaps the most wrenching experience of all is the effect that parents have on the children because the parents are no longer together. Even with visitation rights or shared custody, most parents find that handling children with the ex spouse is extremely troubling.
 
Why are the children troubling for most divorced parents?
There are a variety of reasons for this:
 
First, the presence of children means that most parents will continue to be bound together regardless of the amount of anger and resentment felt towards the former spouse.
 
Second, even with shared custody, there is a sense of loss experienced by both parents because they will no longer see their children as frequently as previously, when the marriage was intact.
 
Third, many parents worry about the influence the former spouse has on the children while they are visiting that parent. In one case I dealt with several years ago, the mother complained that her children returned to her from their father's house extremely unruly and uncooperative. She believed their father talked about her to the children behind her back and did not support her decisions when important issues arose. Her sons, now adolescents and very bright, refused to answer her queries about what their father said to them when they were visiting.
 
Fourth, many divorced parents quarrel over money issues. These conflicts go far beyond child support checks and payments. In cases where one parent has custody while the other has visitation rights, there are disagreements over unanticipated expenses having to do with school, camp, illness, clothes and other similar issues. The parent demanding more money believes that not enough money is being sent to fully support while the other parent is convinced that they are paying more than is reasonable.
 
The Worst Problem of All:
 
According to the nineteenth century proverb: “No one is angrier than a woman who has been rejected in love. In other words, " Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”     http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-woman-scorned 
      
Today, the proverb quoted above holds equally true for men and women. Retribution becomes all-consuming for many people in divorce situations. The misfortune is that children suffer the consequences of parental anger.
 
Comprehensive marriage counseling services are available: http://www.allanschwartztherapy.com
 
Why do so many divorcing couples become vengeful and vindictive? 
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vindictive
 
People enter marriage believing that they love and are loved by their partner. Each partner experiences joy, hope and fond expectation of happiness that will last forever. The hurt and rejection experienced by otherwise intelligent and rational people can give rise to the basest types of behavior and hateful passion. Another way of answering the question is to state the fact that hate is a way for some people to remain attached to their former spouse.
 
The vengeful behavior on the part of either parent often takes the form of interfering with the visiting rights of the non-custodial parent. Despite the decision of the judge in a divorce case the visiting parent is denied permission to see his/her children.
 
Another way for a vengeful former spouse to act is to constantly badger the non-custodial parent for more money above and beyond what the courts had awarded. Under these circumstances, the custodial parent complains that there is not enough money to cover unforeseen expenses, such as music lessons, team sports, school travel arrangements, and medical and dental bills. It can be equally nasty for the non-custodial parent to refuse to pay any bills and even fail to make child support payments.
 
"Dr. Phil, the television psychologist, has advice for divorced parents. His article can be found at: http://drphil.com/articles/article/242
 
It is important to note that the types of behaviors being noted here have nothing to do with parents who cannot afford to make payments. Of course, there are many circumstances in which neither parent can meet their expenses. However, what is being discussed here are those cases in which revenge is the motivation, rather than finances.These circumstances result in more visits to court, more involvement with attorneys and more painful confrontations.
 
A most unfortunate outcome is when one parent gives up and vanishes from the lives of the children. This can happen whether the visiting parent is the mother or father. However, there is no question that it is the father who is most likely to disappear in these cases. In losing the connection to a parent a terrible scar is left on the life of the child. Children characteristically blame themselves when a parent leaves. Depression and low self-esteem are the consequences suffered by the children.
 
WebMD.com has an article entitled "The Top 5 Mistakes Divorced Parents Make" 
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/top-5-mistakes-divorced-parents-make?page=2
 
Some Suggestions On How to Cope:
 
It is never easy to deal with separation and divorce. It is also unrealistic to advise people who are divorcing to not get angry. What it is possible to do is remind divorcing parents to not use their children as pawns in a war of attrition because of hurt and rejection, no matter how realistic those feelings might be.
 
Children cannot decide who is the better parent nor should they have to make such a decision. Parents need to find a way to put their resentments and hurts away when it comes to the children. Joint custody is probably the best arrangement for children. This is the situation in which children spend part of the week with one parent and the rest of the time with the other parent. Needless to say, former spouses must live near one another in order that the children go to school regardless of whose house they are at.
 
Despite divorce, former spouses must learn to cooperate with and support one another with regard to children. This is true whether there is joint custody or visitation rights.
 
One way to foster cooperation is for divorcing parents to have a mediator handle their case. Most often, that mediator is an attorney versed in how to conduct joint sessions in order that an amicable agreement is worked out between the two separating spouses. This eliminates one attorney and allows the mediator to help steer the couple away from vengeance and towards a realistic divorce.
 
Comprehensive marriage counseling services are available at: http://www.allanschwartztherapy.com
 
You may visit Dr. Schwartz's website at http://www.allanschwartztherapy.comor contact him via Email at: [email protected]
 

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