Minimize the Impact of Divorce on Your Child 
  By Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

 The course book of "Living 201" says that children need to feel good about both parents in order to feel good about themselves.  Furthermore, children need to feel loved by not just one but by both parents.  Do not deprive your child of what is his or her birthright just because you're mad with the other parent.  
Don't trash your ex-spouse in front of your child.  Instead, try to assure the child of the other parent's love.  If the ex-spouse doesn't call or show up at the time he or she promised the child, help your child by giving ex-spouse the benefit of the doubt.  Who knows there might have been an unexpected call or a work assignment.  Don't jump to the conclusion and tell your child, "I told you, he (or she) doesn't care."
 Do not use the child as an "informer," to spy on the other parent, "Who is she (or he) dating now?   What did he (or she) say about me?"  Don't turn your child into your private detective.  Digging for such information puts the child in the awful position of taking sides and dividing his (or her) loyalty.  Your child may end up losing respect for one or both parents.
 Do not use the child's visitation as a threat, a means to punish the other parent, or as a condition for the other parent to do something.  Do not cancel the child's visit because you are upset with the other parent.  Visitation is a child's way to be connected to both parents and to recover some of the loss he or she has experienced.  The child's right to visitation must be respected and maintained unless it is harmful to the child.  
 Share a child's joy when he brings good reports of his visit and expresses good feelings about the other parent.  This is not a refection on you as a parent or an act of disloyalty toward you.  "Johnny" still loves you the same regardless of how much he still loves the other parent.  If Johnny had a good time during his visitation with the other parent, it does not mean that he isn't having a good time with you.  Let a child be a child.  Let him or her play and study.  Do not make the child a party to your own struggle and frustration with the other parent.
It is necessary for your child to be assured of the love of both parents.  Remember that your ex-spouse is still your child's parent.  Even though it hurts, truth must be told as it is.  So let me tell you the truth as it is.  When you physically or emotionally bruise the other parent, you bruise your child.  So, in trying to get even with the other parent, don't do so by putting your child at odds with the other parent.
File: divorce  5/10/98  index: parenting, divorce, children of divorce

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