By John Reilly, LCSW, PsyA, Executive Director
In a divorced or separated family, parenting presents many challenges. The challenges are due to the range of feelings that occur as a result of a divorce. Children can feel caught in the middle of the tension and, during the holidays with the disruption of normal visitation schedules, there is often a lot of give and take. One parent may not be able to have their children on a holiday and hurt feelings can result. It is important to remember that parents initiate divorce, children don’t, but children have to live with the arrangements that occur as a result of their parents ending the marriage and breaking up the family. The sooner the parents can get to a more positive place regarding their ex-spouse the better for everyone.
One tip to do just that is to stop thinking about the former spouse as “my ex. . . the ex” or any other term that is imbued with such negativity. Instead try to view the other person as “the mother or father of my child or children.” When one can start to see the other that way it is not so loaded as the term “ex.” Divorced couples are ex-spouses, but they are still parents – so viewing the other as a partner in parenting helps one think more about what is best for the children.
As we begin the holiday season, rather than thinking that your children are spending time with “my ex” try reminding yourself that they are spending time with their mother or father. Doesn’t that sound better?