The Hardest Thing.
When you are going through a high conflict divorce, custody challenges or alienation, the hardest thing is often the most important thing. The most important thing is how to support your child where they are and build (or rebuild) that bridge of relationship with them. The hardest thing is stepping back from where you want to be, to where you are.
Sometimes, that means giving up your right to be right, holding your words when the truth is on your side. It means finding a way to put aside your well-earned anger and protectiveness about your ex and refusing to let that shadow the relationship with your child. It means promoting the partnering parent in having the most positive relationship they can with your shared child. Sometimes in extreme cases, it means having a relationship with the child and setting aside “parenting authority “ for that season of rebuilding. This is such a challenge and not fair, but discipline is built upon relationship. There are so many ways to relate as a parent yet we often want to start with the authority, educating holding expectations. In parent/child relationships that have been broken, relationship must be built first.
In extreme cases, yes, protecting your child is important. In most cases, a child benefits from the presence and love of both of their parents. Do you know that research bears out that children do better, even in divorce by relating to both parents who contain their conflict? Two imperfect parents, who refuse to place the child between them in their dispute. They do poorly in family separation with enduring conflict. Children in high conflict situations end up with increased anxiety, depression, relational problems throughout life and are often isolated. Behavioral problems are also increased in children living enduring conflict between parents. This is not what any parent wants yet it is easy to let struggle, negativity, criticism and grief overwhelm your family and overflow onto your child. It is easy to implicitly ask your child to be your support and help you get through this challenge rather than getting support elsewhere so you can then meet the child’s need.
Think about what the most important thing is in your situation, from your child’s perspective, not your own. How can you support your child today where they are? What steps can you take to build (or rebuild) that bridge of relationship with them? Remember, the hardest thing is stepping back from where you want to be to where you are but that patience and investment can build strength and resilience in the long run. Be encourag
ed- It is a season, not a state.