Written by Val Hemminger, Lawyer and Mediator
Good parenting skills require that you keep your kids out of conflict regardless of what your ex is doing. Here is what I believe. At the end of the day, kids get over the fact of your separation.
While it may be challenging for them at first, they ultimately move on and continue with their job of being kids, that is, of growing, discovering, playing, and learning to understand the complex world around them.
What kids do not get over, is when their parents are in conflict despite their separation.
Whether kids’ parents are separated or together has little influence on whether or not a child will grow to have long-term and meaningful relationships themselves, whether or not they will go on to finish school and move on to post-secondary education, and whether or not they will have a healthy relationship with substances such as alcohol, or have such challenges.
Where there can be real negative impact of separation and divorce is when kids experience their parents being in continual conflict. It takes developing really good skills, including really good parenting skills to deal with these matters effectively for the benefit of your kids.
“If you want your kids to quit school and do drugs, you need to keep this up” is what I say to parents who are continually fighting with one another. The list of things that parents can fight about when separated is endless. Being a lawyer who practices family law, these are some of the things I have seen parents not only fight about, but use to fuel court applications:
Like I said, the list of items that parents can fight about is endless. Parents who exercise good parenting skills remember the profound cost of conflict.
What we now know is that children being in the midst of continuous parental conflict affects the ability of the child’s brain to develop properly. Seriously.
When their separated parents fight, kids most often think it is their fault. Kids believe that if they themselves were more loveable, more perfect, more well-behaved, or a better kid, that their parents would not need to fight. This is why good parenting skills require us to manage not only our own behavior, but our own emotions as parents.
For us grown ups, we think that the conflict is our problem and caused by us (well, let’s be truthful here, most often we think it is caused by the other parent) and not the children.
If we are in constant struggle with the other parent, it gets in the way of them being able to develop healthy and happy lives.
The opposite is also true. When parents who are separated work together for the benefit of their children, regardless of their separation, this benefits kids. This type of behavior makes it way more likely that kids will finish school, not have problems with addictions, and will go on to have healthy long-term relationships themselves.
So, for example, when parents exercise good parenting skills such as when kids see their parents discussing with each other items such as these, their self-esteem is improved, they think they are valuable, and they know they are loved and loveable:
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Return from good parenting skills