In this article we are continuing to explore the parenting-partner covenant and its rationale.
We will try to help our children maintain a relationship with relatives on both sides.
One of the reasons this covenant sentence is important is because our children's lives have been turned upside down. Their security system has been uprooted. As adults, we experience the fear that changes bring into our lives. We wonder what is the future going to be like for us.
Can we make it financially and emotionally? If we feel the emotions divorce brings into our lives, we can only imagine what our children must be fearing or thinking. For this reason, it is extremely important to keep as much of their lives intact and that includes maintaining a relationship with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. These people have been their family and to end that support system could be damaging to our children. Not only would breaking a relationship with relatives be difficult for our children, but it would also be extremely painful for the relatives on both sides.
As the extended family, it is extremely important that we do not speak ill of our ex-in-laws. If our action is to punish or lash out at the ex-in-laws, don't.
We will explain to the children that the divorce is not their fault.
It is wise to explain to our children that the divorce was an adult decision. We want to make sure they know the divorce was not their fault. This is important especially for younger children because they may believe they are responsible for the divorce. They may want their world to be like it was before so they may try to do things that will sabotage any new relationships. Children experience a lot of feelings and may act out with anger. Usually, that anger is directed at the custodial parent. We need to not to be defensive but allow our children to safely express their feelings.
What about dating?
The question arises: "What about bringing home dates?" A friend of mine shared how she handled this. The danger is that our children will bond with that friend and will be heartbroken if that relationship does not work. It is another abandonment injury. The suggestion is to meet new dates away from the home at first rather than having many strangers coming and going in our children's lives. Consider introducing the person as a "friend" until the relationship becomes serious. The bottom line: constantly base our decisions on what is the best for my child. Consider how our children will interpret our actions.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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