Maintaining a Wholesome Relationship with Children as a Family Unit following Separation or Divorce

When parents separate, or become divorced, the children are also thrown into a state of flux and may be afraid of how this might change their own relationship with mom and dad. For the child’s emotional stability, sense of security, and happiness, it is paramount that parents find a way to put aside their own anger and grievances towards each other and maintain a healthy and wholesome, although different type of relationship, with their children no matter how it is structured.  One key is to find common ground.

Estranged parents should remember that they were once engaged in a loving relationship and that their children were a product of that love, while step parents should remember that they embraced the children out of love for the child’s other parent.  A promise to not talk about parental issues in the child’s presence is a good first step. It is possible for parents to work as a team to provide guidance, structure, and love, even after separation or divorce.

Parents might consider arranging an occasional meeting in the presence of their children to foster the idea that they love their children equally while helping the child understand that their parents will remain an integral part of their lives. At the very least, parents should try to attend some of the child’s social, extracurricular, or school activities together, and agree to remain neutral during the outings. By leaving their own issues with each other out of the picture when they meet as a family unit, children get the emotional support they need from both parents along with the unique talents and perspectives two parents can bring to the table as they are growing up.

Children also learn adult behaviors from their parents and how adults act around them  following the end of their personal relationship can affect a child’s ability to develop and maintain successful adult relationships when they are grown.  Children need to see that adults can put aside the events or situations that resulted in their separation or divorce, which will help reinforce the belief that their parents will always love them and want them, no matter what the situation.

When adults move beyond their own pain and sense of betrayal, their relationship can rise to a new level as friends whose lives are centered on their children.  And children are given the opportunity to share all of their special moments and events with their parents together, as a family.  All children deserve a chance to have a relationship with both parents, regardless of how the adults feel about each other.

NOTE:  This author understands that in cases where a parent is, or has been, abusive to their spouse or children, or if a parent has committed a serious crime or is an alcoholic or drug addict, that it may not be possible, or sensible, for both parents to be with a child.