Has Separation Or Divorce Made Parenting Messy And Complicated?
Do you get tired of sharing parenting responsibilities with your former partner? Have personal feelings related to your separation impacted your ability to care for your child? Does living in separate homes makes healthy communication seem impossible?
Divorce or separation can be hard enough, but when there is a child (or children) involved, all the anger and bitterness are cranked up to full volume. As much as you probably wish you never had to speak with your ex again, the fact that you have a child together means you have no choice. But because neither of you can communicate peacefully or agree on basic parenting goals, your child may not have a healthy and stable environment to grow up in. On the other hand, maybe co-parenting was going smoothly, but then your ex met someone else—now they have a new spouse or partner. All the old wounds have reopened and your parenting situation is fraught with new tensions. Now, whenever you argue with your ex about parental strategies, you have to reckon with their partner, too.
Although the relationship with your ex is messy, deep down, you both want what is best for your child. This requires you to put aside personal feelings and work together. Here at The Davis Group, our goal is to help you and your ex diffuse conflict, learn new communication skills, and create a peaceful and stable environment for your child to grow up in.
It’s Hard To Separate Parenting From The Emotions Tied To Breaking Up
Life is hard on families when parents are separated. Most parents struggle to separate their feelings about their breakup from their parenting. As a result, these feelings affect their ability to act in the child’s best interest. The child ends up torn between the conflicting values and rules of each parent.
What’s more, because the co-parents are no longer in a committed relationship, they usually feel that the other person shouldn’t influence their life. This mindset prevents them from being flexible and willing to compromise on what matters most for their child. Instead of cooperating, one partner will usually get pushy and confrontational, which makes the other partner withdraw. As a result, a parenting imbalance ensues and one partner ends up with more parenting responsibilities than the other.
In today’s world, where women are socialized to be more emotionally expressive than men, the mothers are often the ones addressing their emotional pain up-front, and the fathers are typically the ones retreating. This makes parenting messy, as a parent’s willingness to deal with their emotions directly affects how inclined they are to work through parenting issues.
Thankfully, in co-parenting counseling, you can learn to separate the emotions tied to your breakup from your life as a parent. It may be hard, but it can be done. As long as you and your ex want what is best for your child, you can solve the communication issues that interfere with your ability to raise them.
Co-Parenting Counseling Can Help You And Your Ex Work Together Diplomatically And Peacefully
Let’s face it: you probably have strong feelings about your ex, and they probably have strong feelings about you. In therapy for divorced parents, our aim is not to weigh these feelings against each other and figure out who’s right and wrong. We are here to help you make things easy and consistent for your child. We want to help you work through the emotional turmoil that impacts your ability to collaborate. The goal is for you and your ex to establish a structure and routine that allows both of you to achieve your parenting goals on your own parenting time.
In the beginning, we will conduct individual sessions with you and your former partner separately. Each of you will have a chance to express your own challenges and goals, which lets us gauge whether or not high-level conflict characterizes your relationship. If there is high-level conflict, sessions will remain separate until safe communication is established. Otherwise, after the first session, you and your ex can expect to meet together every time. In the meantime, however, we will still hold individual sessions with each of you to make sure you both gain the skills needed to navigate parenting dynamics.
Co-parenting counseling is heavily solution-oriented. We concentrate on the present and the future. This is not couples therapy, so we do not discuss relational issues from when you were together. We want you to sort through your communication preferences, develop new parenting ideas, and hold your child’s best interests in mind.
A lot of the work we do is eminently practical. For instance, suppose there is a curfew in one parent’s home and not the other. If the curfew rule is broken at one house, will the child face the same consequences for breaking it at the other house? Or suppose the child leaves a school project behind at one house. Will they get to go back to retrieve the project, or will they have to restart the project as a consequence of being irresponsible? Establishing rules in these situations can save a great deal of miscommunication and conflict.
While a romantic relationship is anything but businesslike, sometimes effective co-parenting means being businesslike. You have to put your emotional interests aside. That’s why we focus on solving basic communication issues, ensuring that old turmoil is not re-stirred. At the same time, we still want to help you and your former partner reduce the emotional charge in your communication. For example, if one of you tends to overshare and send lengthy, personal text messages to the other person, we will work on establishing healthy boundaries. And when disagreements do arise, we want to help you learn to be diplomatic instead of letting your emotions take over.
In the end, it does not matter how much you dislike your ex or which of you is right and wrong. What matters is your child and the fact that both of you are committed to giving them the best life possible. In counseling, you can learn to co-parent in a way that is diplomatic and peaceful.
You may have some questions and concerns about therapy for divorced parents…
Do I have to be face-to-face with my former partner?
Here at the Davis Group, we will only do what you are comfortable with. You do not have to meet with your former partner if you don’t want to. If there can’t be safe communication, then we will simply meet with each of you individually. What’s more, we offer different platforms to meet the needs of our clients. Virtual sessions are available if you feel that that would be less stressful than being with your ex in person.
What if my ex doesn’t want to come to counseling with me?
We’re not here to push your former partner into making a decision. If they don’t want to come, we can work with you in individual sessions and help you build strategies to improve your own co-parenting. Over time, if your own parenting improves because of therapy, maybe your ex will be motivated to pursue counseling themself.
Will you see my child for reasons related to the separation?
Your child will have no involvement in co-parenting counseling. But your child still needs help processing and managing their feelings after the divorce, and that’s why we offer individual counseling for children. After all, your child is navigating difficult terrain of their own. A child therapist can help them process events that are out of their control.