When the dust settled–and I hope it did–from your divorce, and you created a new family order, was it based on division or collaboration? If you did not get the relationship help you may have benefited from, it is likely you divided the family. There is another, better way!
Often I work with families who are experiencing divorce. Whether they are in the process of deciding to stay or go, or are long gone, there are shifts that occur that benefit from thinking through. That’s where the relationship help comes in!
When there is a persistence of anger, blame, injustice, inequity, and even, revenge, the family remains divided. Some co-parents don’t seem to be able, or willing to, refrain from mud-slinging, off-hand comments, and living in their past. Sure, it can be difficult. I’m not for a moment suggesting that divorce is easy for anyone. It isn’t. It represents dreams shattered, futures altered, and trust broken. It’s difficult, painful and complicated. But, the dust can settle, the situation can be carefully assessed, and good decisions made that are in the best interests of the children.
Did your divorce divide your family? Did you let it? In some instances, of course, the family is divided for good reason: one parent is unwilling or unable to provide a stable environment for the children and they depart, by their choice or court order. If your children are used as pawns in an unending game you perpetuate, your family is divided and you like it. If your family is divided because you cannot let go of past issues, that’s a choice.
In my High-Conflict Parenting classes, it often comes up between divorced people that they are still punishing each other through the children. Even if they are not bad-mouthing the other parent, they make it difficult for the custody schedule to work, or, they withhold the children, time or money. In so many ways, they are sustaining the “fight” that created the divorce, while kidding themselves that they are over it. It’s so evident in their behavior, but they feel so justified. That is a divided family.
Is your divorce demonstrating collaboration? That means that you’ve gotten over each other and past wrongs. Or, at least, you can think yourself straight at moments you are still triggered by them. It means you have the true best interests of the children at heart, not just the words to make others think that’s so. It means that you can think in ways that are bigger than yourself and can accommodate what’s best for all concerned. A divorced family that collaborates realizes that everyone benefits from choices made for the best lives in this moment, not predicated on past pains. They move forward in the best interests of the children.
A collaborative family of divorce is one in which everyone–divorced parents, new partners, grandparents, etc.–seeks to provide what is truly in the best interests of the children. It’s a child-centered family that lives in more than one location but all contribute to the well-thought out well-being and health of the children in every way–physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a family that works from what is empowering, rather than what is exploitative or expedient.
A collaborative family is usually one that has received the relationship help each member needs to re-group in this healthy fashion and proceed with an empowered life for everyone.