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Parenting (cont.)

Tips for Successful Co-Parenting After a Divorce

Whether a mother and father are married or divorced should have little relevance when considering how to raise their child/children. It is presumed that they both want their offspring to feel safe, develop a sense of right and wrong and empathy for others, and have an opportunity to develop their intellect and body to the maximum potential. Parents should establish a fundamental framework of how they believe these goals can be achieved and realize that their strategy may need adjustments based upon circumstances. In a divorced setting, the children are not pawns to be manipulated to "get back at" a former spouse. Criticism by one parent of another only places the child in an unfair and vulnerable position, having to choose between two people whom he/she loves. It is well known that many children harbor inappropriate guilt regarding the divorce and associated acrimony. ("If I had not done this or that, mom and dad would still be happily together.") A corollary to this belief is the conviction that if the child just were "better," his mother and father would recant and there would be a united and happy family unit. Finally, it is important to remember that children (of all ages) learn by observation. Youngsters develop a sense of how males and females behave by watching their father or mother; teens will tend to model their same gender parent (for example, girls model after their mother) in that person's treatment of the spouse. In short, divorced parents must leave their prejudice against their former spouse at the curb.

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