I would love your views on separation/divorce and the reason I say that is ~ I have a girlfriend that is going through it and she is dragging the kids into it and the more I tell her to stop the more she seems to ignore my advice.
Your friend is traveling down a rocky path that leads to resentment and discord between herself and her children. Regardless of the cause of the divorce, unless the other party was abusive to the children, the relationship with the other parent should be maintained and nurtured.
It is not an easy task to watch your child maintain a relationship with the other parent when you yourself feel like you were mistreated and injured in some way. However, your issues with your spouse are exactly that: YOURS!
Children love their mothers. Children also love their fathers. This love is not likely to change and trying to force a child to choose one over the other causes undue stress. The only result of this form of manipulation is anger and frustration from your child.
While it is understandable that a parent wants validation and acceptance of a divorce, a child is not the person to seek that validation from. Children often are too young to fully understand the causes and justifications for divorce. More often than not, children feel as if they were the cause of the divorce and are encumbered with a great deal of guilt from the day you tell them about the impending changes.
So, what can be done to change the errant ways of your dear friend? Perhaps nothing.
Some people simply refuse to override their own needs for the sake of their children. Many divorced parents go through life hating each other so much and recognizing that the only real ammunition they have against each other is the affection of their children. They view that affection as the ultimate goal because to be the favored parent means that they are not viewed as the guilty parent. Yet divorces are rarely caused by one event or even one spouse. While there may have been a final event, there are usually a series of occurrences that build up to the divorce. Recognizing the role one played in the demise of the marriage means taking some level of responsibility for the fatal end. People rarely enjoy accepting blame or acknowledging fault, particularly where divorce is involved.
It is my opinion that your friend needs to embark on family counseling to learn successful and healthy techniques for interacting with her children and her ex-spouse. Co-parenting is vital to the well being of these children who have unwillingly been encumbered in the midst of a angry and messy divorce. It is not an easy lesson to learn, but one that is better learned now before any more damage is done.
In lieu of counseling, your friend should begin reading about how her actions affect her children. Perhaps if she realizes just how hurtful this type of behavior is for her children then she will be willing to make vital changes. Mothers generally prefer to have happy children and usually avoid intentionally inflicting pain on their own kids so this may work for her.
Below are a few resources that you may find helpful. Provide this information to your friend and then understand that she has to take responsibility for her own actions. You can not change her, nor can you direct her decisions. Some people simply have to learn hard lessons the hard way. Years from now when her children resent her for her manipulations, refrain from telling her that you warned her.
Your local library will also have books on helping a child deal with divorce.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Posted by Mom at 6:17 PM