Before any issues had begun to occur between you and your co-parent, you and your child may have had the best relationship imaginable. They were kind and respected your authority. You helped guide them through formative years and loved your role in their lives.
Your relationship was not defined by your relationship with your co-parent. However, during the divorce experience, the end of your marriage can negatively impact your relationship with your child, and it is important that you do everything that you can to maintain the role you have in your child’s life.
In order to start down that path, it is important to have your custodial rights as a priority in your divorce settlement, which will require the assistance of a family law attorney, who understands the importance of your place in your child’s life.
Your family law attorney will be able to defend your role in your child’s life, so that you may be able to continue to have a positive relationship with your child, regardless of your relationship with your co-parent.
Your relationship with your child is not defined by your relationship with your co-parent. As difficult as your co-parent may find that fact, it is true. Even if they have primary custody of your shared child, they do not dictate how you treat your child during your parenting time, just as you do not dictate how your co-parent treats your child during theirs.
Importance of communication
During your time, it is important to maintain an open line of dialogue with your child. If they are struggling with their new circumstances, you need to make them feel comfortable, and they need to know that they are allowed to feel however they feel.
Regardless of your co-parent and how communicative and open they are, you need to let them know that they can tell you anything about how they feel about this challenging situation.
Whether it is through text message or in person, keeping that line of dialogue going is vital. Making them feel safe to speak on any given topic lets them know that even though the divorce experience is hard, they always will have you to rely on. They can lean on you during the toughest times, and that matters to them.
Many parents attempt to keep a close relationship with their child after divorce through creating extravagant experiences. They look to give their child the time of their life during their parenting time, and while the occasional moment or vacation is important bonding that your child will appreciate, you cannot allow it to become a regular occurrence.
These parents who schedule these elaborate events are known as “Disneyland parents.” They often are a noncustodial parent who indulges his or her child with gifts and good times during parenting time and leaves most or all disciplinary responsibilities to the other parent, according to USLegal.
You need to indulge in the quiet moments that let your child know that you care. Help them study for a test. Listen to them when they talk about their day. Sit and watch their favorite television show.
While the larger, more elaborate moments can be precious, happy moments that you spend with your child, you should not substitute the love you give by being there for them, with the love that you can buy.
Building emotional bonds
On the most basic of levels, you also may want to open up to your child. Omitting all of the details regarding the end of your marriage and any disparaging words about your co-parent, you can show your child that it is okay to feel sad and that it is OK to be hurt by the experience.
This moment of vulnerability is important to teach your child, and through this experience, you can be a part of one another’s healing processes. You are not a substitute for a mental health professional, and if your child needs professional assistance, it is your responsibility to do what is in the best interests of your child.
However, you have a chance of displaying emotional vulnerability, letting them know it is OK to cry; that it is OK to miss how things once were.
Through these types of stepping stones, your child will develop the emotional strength to handle situations that life throws at them, and you both will be closer because of the experience.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.