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Ways to Rebuild a Relationship With the Children After Divorce

March 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 161

Whilst divorce may be seen as the best way to resolve one set of problems in a marriage it frequently brings with it another set, especially when children are involved. Each person continues to be a parent and usually want to maintain an active presence in their children's lives.

Even without children to consider divorce brings many distressing emotions that have to be worked through; one person may not have wanted the divorce, they perhaps feel, angry, bitter, betrayed. Then there are the financial implications to address; these may require the family to leave their home and relocate, children to leave their school and friends, feel embarrassed at having to explain their situation. Children may have witnessed the breakdown of their parent's marriage, seen and heard awful things that were said and done. As a consequence, recovery for all can take some time.

Let's look at ways for parents to rebuild a relationship with their children after divorce:

- In an ideal world both parents would sit and explain what is happening and why to the children together. Children do not need to know too much detail, especially if they are young. But answering questions, avoiding apportioning blame and explaining how the divorce will affect them is important.

- They need reassurance that they are not to blame in any way for the breakdown of the marriage. Young children especially can sometimes wonder if their behaviour caused conflict and arguments, tension and unhappiness in their parent's relationship. They need reassurance that this is not the case and that, whilst their parents have decided to not continue living together, they still love their children and are not leaving them.

- If the children have witnessed unpleasant rows and fighting between their parents they may need time to recover from the experience. The custodial parent needs to reinforce the message that both parents love their children, if not each other. It can take time for children to heal the memory of the dreadful things they have seen, heard and lived through.

- Listening to what the children want is important. They may be prepared to see the non-custodial parent for specific activities, allow them to drive them somewhere, help with their homework, have a particular activity in mind that they are prepared to share. Ignoring what they say, insisting on an alternative arrangement or trying to override their request, refusing to listen to them, trying to force or cajole them into doing something different will only reinforce the barrier and hostility. Tolerance, flexibility and patience is often required at the beginning.

- Children need to know that the non-custodial parent is determined to keep in contact, wants to see them, speak to them, continues to send cards, messages, gifts and support them even if they refuse to acknowledge the gestures. They see it as demonstrating that their parent continues to care about them even though they may feel unable to reciprocate through anger, bitterness or a sense of loyalty to their custodial parent. Perseverance is important in continuing to prove that they are thought about, important and loved.

- Sometimes grandparents or trusted family members and friends can provide support in rebuilding a better relationship with the children. They can provide the voice of reason, a calming influence and continuity where children feel safe. Using that familiar environment for meeting can provide a positive place where children can start to rebuild trust again, a step at a time. Sometimes simply knowing that their parent has called may be enough at first, even if they refuse to see them.

- Mediation and family therapy can help by providing a safe, neutral environment where children feel listened to, respected, have their wishes and opinions valued. It can help provide an arena for children to say how they feel, what they want and need for the time being, what their understanding of the situation is, what their fears are. Then it can be possible for parents and children to navigate a staged improvement in the relationship. This helps children to understand what they are agreeing to, what they can expect to happen, change arrangements that aren't working for them. By having this discussed professionally, with a counsellor present, they feel included in the process, less pressurised and that their wishes are being listened to and taken on board.

Divorce is often a traumatic process for everyone. Children especially can feel that their world has been torn apart. Everything they knew as normal and familiar has gone and been replaced with hurt and uncertainty. Allowing enough time is an important part of recovery. Then as they feel supported and respected they can start to address their family relationships again.

Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief and with couples in crisis to improve communications and understanding. She runs Get Back on Your Feet Workshops to help people recover from setbacks and learn the important skills with which to resume their lives.

Further help, advice and articles are available on this and other related subjects.

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Source: EzineArticles
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