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Coping with regret about your kids post-divorce

When you made the decision to divorce your spouse, you were likely compelled to process numerous fears and concerns regarding how your children would cope with your decision. It is both normal and healthy to worry about one’s children. It would have been odd if you had no concerns and fears about your child’s reactions to your divorce. But did you stop to worry about your own heart? Did you stop to wonder how you would cope with the changing nature of your relationship with your child in the wake of your divorce?

No matter how your child custody arrangements have been constructed, you may be struggling with some regrets in regards to your parenting situation now that your divorce has been finalized. One of the most common regrets parents have after they split from their child’s other parent is that they likely do not get to see their child every single day. Because the culture of parenting and the family legal system have evolved in recent years to become more inclusive, it is relatively rare that one parent assumes full custody and physical placement of a child in the wake of divorce unless the other parent is deemed unfit or chooses to walk away. As a result, many divorced parents go days, weeks and even months in between seeing their child face-to-face.

What children of divorced parents learn over time

In the immediate aftermath of parental divorce, children often feel confused, hurt, angry and a host of other negative emotions. However, like their parents, they tend to grow into their new lives over time. Many children emerge from the aftermath of divorce far stronger, more resilient, more responsible and more empathetic than they were before their parents went their separate ways.

Regardless of how your children’s child custody arrangements are constructed, if you parent them with their best interests in mind, they will likely emerge from the divorce process healthy, happy and well-adjusted. Although your children may struggle with certain elements of your divorce for years, they will likely also benefit from certain divorce-related truths which they will learn over time.

Divorcing? Don't hit your emotional off-switch, please

You and your spouse have decided to divorce. Are you overwhelmed by your emotions? Chances are that you are indeed overwhelmed. But because the world does not stop when you decide to divorce, you are likely stuffing your emotions down as best you can in order to keep getting to work on time, keep getting the kids off to school and keep yourself fed, watered and entertained.

We frequently write about how important it is that you keep your negative emotions from impacting your divorce process for the worse. If you allow your negative emotions to impact the ways in which you approach property division or child custody disputes, you could end up with far less than you deserve. However, it is also important that you don’t stuff your emotion in favor of barreling through the process without thinking about how sad, angry, confused or frustrated you feel.

Reacting to your spouse's desire for a divorce

Earlier this month, we wrote about the importance of behaving in a straightforward and consistent manner when telling your spouse that you want a divorce. But what if you do not want a divorce? What if you are grappling with the frustrating and deeply sad reality that your spouse wants a divorce? It is important that you take certain steps in reaction to this news, even if you are so stunned and overwhelmed that your feet seem to be rooted to the floor.

Thankfully, even if you do not feel that you can process this news completely right now, you can enlist professionals to help you move forward with actions that you cannot yet wrap your head around. For example, it is important to speak with an attorney sooner rather than later. Failure to speak with an attorney as soon as you know that your spouse wants a divorce can result in numerous negative consequences, depending on your circumstances. Meeting with a financial planner and a counselor may benefit you as well.

Telling your spouse that you wish to file for divorce

If you have decided that you want to file for divorce, you have made a life-altering choice. It was likely not easy to make this decision, unless some significant event occurred that fundamentally conflicts with your values. But whether or not the decision to divorce was a straightforward one to make for you, you are likely grappling with a host of negative emotions. It is important not to let these emotions take control while you are telling your spouse that you want a divorce.

Certainly, negative emotions like anger may help to give you the courage to make this announcement. However, letting your negative emotions run the show may set a truly negative tone for your divorce process. As you are less likely to get the child custody and/or property division settlement that you want and deserve if you initiate a high-conflict divorce process, it is important to remain calm and focused while telling your spouse that you no longer wish to remain married.

When your child's other parent leaves

Sometimes when couples divorce, the process is amicable and each former partner is able to remain a healthy and stable part of their mutual child’s life. However, this scenario is not one that is played out in every family. Some former spouses bitterly dispute their child custody arrangements because each desperately wants primary or sole custody of their children. Still other families are split in ways that leave one parent in sole custody of a child not by choice but because the child’s other parent has left.

This scenario is often uniquely heartbreaking. While the remaining parent is spared a custody dispute and the child is spared tension between co-parents, any affected child tends to struggle with the feeling that he or she has been abandoned by the parent who has left.

What is 'intimate terrorism' and who commits it?

If you have stumbled across the phrase “intimate terrorist” you may be curious about what it means. Similarly, if you have a controlling and physically aggressive romantic partner, you may be wondering how to label this kind of behavior. You may find the answers to these questions in a study recently presented at an intimate partner violence symposium at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology.

Although the term “intimate terrorism” was coined more than a decade ago, this recent study explores the phenomenon in depth. It also suggests that women are more likely to engage in this form of behavior than men are. It is unclear how often this form of domestic abuse leads to divorce, but it is almost certainly a contributing factor to many.

Helping your children through the pain of divorce

If the title of this blog post caught your eye, you are likely a concerned parent who is either divorcing or has finalized a divorce in the relatively recent past. Earlier this month, we posted a blog entitled, “If kids could fully express their feelings about your divorce.” In that post, we noted that kids and teens may be unable to fully understand or express their feelings about your divorce, even if they want to.

It can be difficult to watch your child struggle with his or her feelings about your divorce. Regardless of how his or her child custody arrangements are structured, divorce is always an adjustment, even for the smallest of children. You may be wondering how to help your child during this time. You know your child best and likely have some ideas of your own. Keeping these few additional tips in mind should help you and your child through this time of transition.

Is it time for you and your spouse to go your separate ways?

When couples decide to divorce, each spouse may experience a myriad of emotions. In addition to anger, grief and frustration, some spouses are surprised to discover that they feel a certain degree of relief. How could the decision to end a marriage result in relief? That is a complex question with many answers.

First, the numerous reasons that individuals opt to divorce tend to be quite painful. Making the decision to move forward separately inspires its own pain but can also remain a solution to the different kinds of pain that led to the split in the first place. Second, the questioning which occurs when couples are deciding whether or not to divorce can be draining. Ultimately concluding that divorce is the best option for any given couple can inspire relief that a decision has finally been made.

If kids could fully express their feelings about your divorce

Children and teens do not always know how to express themselves fully. Even when they are crying, yelling or otherwise engaging in a more dramatic form of emotional expression, they may not be able to fully articulate what they are concerned about, questioning or feeling.

If you and your child’s other parent have recently opted to divorce, your child is almost certainly hurting, confused, angry, frightened or some combination of these emotions. Regardless of how his or her child custody arrangements are constructed, your child may be feeling deeply torn and may not know how to express his or her feelings, needs, desires and fears.

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