In the majority of cases, former spouses are able to co-parent peacefully together for the good of their children.
They put aside any animosity for the well-being of their kids and set about the task of moving on in their own lives. Yes, there are some bumps in the road, but learning how to negotiate goes a long way in smoothing out these situations. In rare circumstances, one parent has a personality disorder in which their conscience or morality is faulty.
There are ways to counterbalance the influence of a toxic parent or toxic parents after divorce.
My older son said that the most important measure which helped him was volunteering.
My sons heard so many negatives that helping needy people and animals took the focus off them and onto how they could make the world a better place.
We took supplies to hospitals in Asia and feline medications to a cat clinic in the Cook Islands. At home my sons volunteered with animals, at a homeless shelter, and tutoring youngsters in chess.
Helping others is very rewarding and they enjoy doing so. Volunteering connects your children to others and connection is what a parent with a personality disorder lacks. As an added bonus, being of service to others fosters a work ethic for future jobs. It also teaches kids to get along with people of different cultures, ages, and classes, which is necessary in this global economy.
Another aspect to help children not follow in a parent’s self-centeredness is by traveling and meeting folks from different cultures. They see others with their eyes and form their own impressions. This reduces prejudice, even if the other parent spouts vile opinions of others not in her ethnic group.
We went to a Muslim country soon after 9/11 and the warmth and kindness my boys received made a lasting impression. Children are less likely to be judgemental when they have enjoyed the hospitality of people in different lands, no matter what others may be saying about them.
Helping children connect to their spiritual side diminishes the effects of antagonistic remarks made by the other parent. Whether this is going to church or appreciating the beauty of nature, the children then have something outside of themselves. My son enjoys singing in the choir and my friend delights in gazing at the ocean. Whatever feels right to you is fine.
Remember to give your kids extra cuddles.
A toxic parent may not be affectionate, but rather more aloof. Reassure your kids that you will always be there for them. A dysfunctional parent may play mind games, make empty promises, and attempt to use the kids in a tug of war. Do not get involved in these battles and get a third party to intervene if necessary.
The important thing is to be a constant presence in your kids’ lives and give unconditional love. Have clear boundaries, expectations, and consequences when these are violated. The kids know where they stand with you. Consider having the kids check in with a children’s divorce coach to ensure that they are thriving and not just surviving.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce
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