you are experiencing pre- or post-divorce co-parenting difficulties, following
is a summary of frank, research-based information that is reported by Stanford
L. Braver in a book entitled “Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths”. While it
might be difficult to hear, this information may prove to be of considerable use
in a) understanding some of the beliefs and dynamics at issue, and b) for developing a
viable plan to address and resolve the conflict.
for (noncustodial) divorced dads:
are twice as likely as men to file for divorce.
most frequent reason women cite for wanting a divorce is “gradually
growing apart, losing a sense of closeness” with their partner. In other
words, there may be nothing in particular that provoked her wish to divorce—just a gradual
accumulation of dissatisfaction with the relationship.
average, women in post divorce situations hold on to their anger longer than
tends to be true of men. Given this, your prior spouse may be much angrier
than you are.
may react to things you do as if they were designed as efforts to control
her—even if that is patently not the case.
may genuinely believe “it is in the best interests of the children” for
you to stay away so the children aren’t exposed to the bickering that
transpires between the two of you; or so the kids won’t have to deal with
her distress after she’s been in contact with you.
may seem that the intent of her actions is to drive home the notion that
your presence is not wanted or needed.
is likely to restrict or terminate your visitation if you are tardy or
negligent in making support payments.
may be genuinely fearful for her physical safety--even if there is no
history of physical violence between you--and seek a restraining
order against you.
may act in ways that appear designed to provoke physical aggression from
you. Physical violence often makes its first appearance in a relationship
during the process of the divorce.
may (be encouraged to) allege that you have been abusive
towards the children in order to have your access and involvement
legal system is most unlikely to
provide any sanctions for false allegations brought against you.
for (custodial) divorced moms:
you are a divorced female whose prior spouse is not making his support payments
on time, or not making them at all, and/or who has disengaged from his
relationships with the children:
prior spouse may be feeling that he has been prevented from having
meaningful involvement in the lives of his children.
may be of the view that you (and others) devalue his relationship with the
may believe that you are acting purposefully to discourage his involvement
with the children.
needs to be heard and appreciated is the following:
your spousal relationship IN NO WAY ends your joint obligation to parent
without exception, children love both of their biological parents—even if
they are angry with one or both of them.
children have a right, and a need to be parented by BOTH of their parents.
very few exceptions, it is NOT in the children’s best interest to have
their relationship with either of their parents severed.
It is well established that children who are deprived of a relationship with
either of their parents are at an increased risk for a wide range of
conflict between the parents LITERALLY damages the self-esteem of the
children caught in the middle of the conflict.
who are truly concerned with “the best interests of the child” encourage
and support the relationship their kids have with the non-custodial
parent—even if this can only occur by way of supervised visits.
children will hold anyone to account who treats their biological parent
badly, or obstructs their relationship with that parent.
plan for action:
a minimum, both parents need to acknowledge that their lingering conflict is
much more likely to be self-serving than protecting the best interests of
the kids. Good parents don’t use and hurt their children in order to vent
their anger or have their own needs met.
agreement to co-parent the children needs to be struck and adopted. Those
differences that couldn’t be resolved during the marriage won’t be
solved now. Consequently, they must simply be left out of the co-parenting
obligations you share. Just as you need not like every business client with
whom you work, you can co-parent effectively without having to re-establish
a fond regard for your co-parent. Strive for a working relationship that is
cordial and polite, and that focuses strictly upon the needs of the kids.
parents must support and encourage the relationship the children have with
the other parent.
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