PARENT EDUCATION: Co-parenting During a High-Conflict Divorce

By Don Shar, NCC

Co-parenting during high-conflict divorceCo-parenting conflict is a frequent problem presented in counseling during or after the process of divorce: who sees the children and when, what goes on during their time in the “other” home, what the children are doing and what’s being communicated to the children during this time.

Divorcing/divorced parents are sometimes doing battle over just about everything. Unfortunately, the battleground can extend to their precious children. Some things to consider:

1) The divorce is not the child’s doing, and does not change how they feel about their parents. You may not like each other enough to stay married. However, do not expect your children to be as hurt, anxious or angry with your ex-spouse as you are.  You are divorcing, not the kids. Shield your children from being an audience to divorce battles, and insist others do the same when they are around your children. Do not allow your contentious divorce issues to be part of your children’s environment.

2) Both parents are important to the child. A child’s well-being is enhanced by a strong relationship with his or her parents. A child and their parents should have the opportunity to love each other. Encouraging and supporting this relationship with an “ex” should be a priority. Disrespect (including requests to spy and report on the other parent) can create a stressful environment for children who are attached to both parents.

3) Your children are watching…and learning. The process of divorce is often highly disruptive. During this period, there can be great uncertainty. Children are aware of this and are watching how their parents cope. They’re learning from parental responses to this uncertainty.  What do you want your children to learn from you? If it’s confidence, good will and grace (rather than fear, hostility and mercilessness) these must be shown in your words and actions, especially in difficult times.

You may also be interested in reading our article on non-custodial parenting. If you’re having a difficult time co-parenting, or just parenting, please contact our office at 412-366-1300.  Counseling, parent coaching, support group therapy, and more are available. We will connect you with someone who can help.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.—Isaiah 43:18,19