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INsist your child participates in family events with your co-parent and extended family activities. 

Be aware of upcoming events and participate in making sure your child has the appropriate attire:  i.e. bathing suit for pool or beach excursions, dress clothes if your child is going to a wedding or formal event. Help your child pick out appropriate clothing for events.

Help your child prepare emotionally for new events.  Going to meet or visit with their new grandparents, attend birthday party for a new relative, family weddings or family events.

INsist your child has regular contact with your co-parent. This is especially true when non-custodial parent and co-parents live in different areas.

Be mindful that a quiet or shy child may need extra encouragement, love, and patience to participate in family activities.  Consider discussing upcoming events and maybe role-playing to help your child feel secure in mingling with new family members.

INsist your child hears positive things about your co-parent. 

When a parent chooses not to be in their child’s life the outcome can be heartbreaking.  For the child and the co-parent. Sometimes, the only option is to love on your child more. Understandably, what is difficult to watch is how the absence is hurting your child and not not being able to do anything to help.  Inflicting pain into your child’s life because of divorce  is a horrible feeling.

Having unconditional love and support from one parent can be a huge compensating factor.

Sometimes, seeking professional help may benefit all parties in coping with the ambiguous loss.

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Real Life Experience

Family Party

A child has a right to enjoy their relationship with both parents.

In this situation, Mom was picking up their 3-year-old son late afternoon to attend a birthday party. Dad was aware of the family gathering that evening.

He purposely did not have their son nap that day, knowing he would be irritable while at the party.  Understandably this child was not his charming self at the family party.

Dad said his attorney advised him to avoid fighting with his co-parent.  Admittedly, the only way he could retaliate was through their son.

Sadly, the person who missed out the most was the child. He missed out on the experience of enjoying the party and spending time with relatives.

Extended family members play a valuable role and this was a missed opportunity for everyone. Mom missed out on enjoying the party because tending to a fussy child is never easy.  An opportunity to bond and have fun was lost by everyone.

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Take home message:

Parents must be considerate when fashioning shared parenting arrangements. Purposefully, sending a child who is fussy/tired/hungry is thinking about themselves and not the child.

A divorced relationship is similar to any other relationship, and takes work. The payoff? A happy, healthy and well-adjusted child.

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Real Life Experience

Sad Story 

A revealing reality for this little girl. When one parent is uncooperative, the child suffers. 

When these parents divorced, dad (a prominent attorney) created a divorce agreement giving mom full physical custody, minimal child support and nominal alimony. Mom struggled greatly to provide for their 4-year-old daughter. 

On the weekend of a playmates birthday party this child wanted to wear her pretty party dress.  Mom shared with her little girl that wearing the pretty dress was not possible.  Many of the clothes were still at dad’s house (the primary residence prior to the divorce). Including the dress she so desperately wanted to wear.

The daughter insisted they “just call dad and pick up the dress”.  Mom, again attempted to explain how they can not call dad and she would need to wear something else.  After an understandably, frustrating several minutes this sweet child was unable to grasp the concept as why she could not just call dad and wear her pretty party dress to the party. 

Unfortunately, dad was not cooperative with many issues concerning their daughter and this was just one of many stories in this child's life where she went without.  

To this day, this father has a superficial relationship with his daughter.   Mother and daughter have an amazingly close relationship.

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Take home message: 

A non-resident parent choosing minimal or no involvement can be painful and difficult for the child to understand.

Explaining that sometimes people behave in ways that are hurtful to others will hopefully help them to understand that they have done nothing wrong, and need not blame themselves. 

There might be very little you can do to force this issue and the simple solution may come down to reinforcing to your child how much they are loved.

 

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Real Life Scenario

Who is the Parent

Yes, co-parenting in divorce can be difficult; however, taking the parental conflict to extra curricular activities is going to far.  Right?

 See how this adolescent assumed the responsibility of his parent’s inability to communicate at baseball game.   

Alex's parents filed for divorce several months before baseball season started.  His parents were high conflict with no boundaries for arguing.

Alex was a rising star on his team.  Both of his parents came to most games and some practice sessions.  His parents stayed away from each other-most of the time.  A couple of times they bickered. At one game, one parent attacked the other parent in the parking lot for something regarding child support.  In front of many people.  

Alex, understandably, was humiliated by his parents' behavior.  After the altercation Alex went to his coach stating he was quitting the team.  Alex used the logical excuse of homework.  Given he was in advanced classes, that excuse made sense.

Fortunately, the perceptive coach suspected something else.  Alex was one of the best players in the league.  

Recalling the event in the parking lot the previous game, the coach approached Alex's parents and asked what they thought about their son quitting the team.  Both parents were surprised to hear the news.  There were many discussions about Alex receiving a full scholarship for his sport talents.     

Coach elaborated on the embarrassment Alex experienced due to parental conflict at the games.  He shared that on more than one occasion he noticed that Alex seemed anxious when looking in the crowds in the direction of his parents. Notably, the coach said a few other ‘choice’ statements indicating the pathetic nature of the parents’ behaviors.

This was a wake-up call for the parents. They were receptive to the coach’s suggestion for seeking help.  Alex stayed on the team.  His parents still went to most practice sessions and games with no issues. 

This shows the damage of parental conflict! This adolescent was willing to sacrifice his love of the game and a possible scholarship because his parents were unable to maintain a level of common decency at a social function. 

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Take home message:

Some children from high conflict divorces want or do not want to bring attention to how horrible they feel, but like most kids lack the skills and the ability to truly stand up for themselves. 

Instead of trying to spend your energy trying to win all arguments with your co-parent; agree to meet in a spirit of cooperation and admit your shortcomings. Be honest what it will take to co-parent peacefully with your ex and try to keep your ego aside and think about what is best for your kids.

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"Always take the high road in divorce, there is a lot less traffic and there is a much better view."

Anonymous

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

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