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Is guilt driving your parenting style after divorce?

Divorce is difficult on all levels and to everyone involved. Children are especially vulnerable during and after the divorce process. Many parents go through feelings of guilt for breaking up the family unit and wondering if their children will survive this life-altering experience unscathed.

The truth is that your children will survive, although it likely will affect their perspective on relationships, their behavior and their expectations. However, when the guilt you feel at the divorce determines how you behave as a parent, it can cause even more difficulties.

-- Guilt can cause competing parents. Instead of successful co-parenting, guilt can cause parents to try to one-up each other. Bigger presents, bigger and better trips and withholding information about important school activities are all signs of competing parents. This manipulative behavior is something kids can easily see through, even though you do your best to hide the facts.

-- Guilt can make parents too controlling and strict. Some parents will strive to have control over anything after having little control over their divorces. As a result, the control they can find turns out to be over the kids. From yelling because a toy doesn't come back from the other parent's house to trying to get your rules enforced at the other parent's home, being too controlling or too strict can make life uncontrollable.

-- Guilt can make parents too lenient. Guilt can also make parents fall too far the other way. In an effort to ensure that their children love them, some parents will avoid enforcing any rules. The hope is that the kids won't want to live with the other parent. This is often one of the greatest fears of the noncustodial parents. They don't get to spend a great deal of time with their children anyway -- who wants to spend that time disciplining kids? However, kids need discipline and they need a routine in order to stay happy and healthy.

Guilt can affect how you interact with your children. Instead, show your children the love they need and crave. Stop competing with the other spouse and know that your children love you for just being you.

If you believe that your child custody arrangements are in need of modification, your attorney can provide more information on how to seek such changes.

Source: Huffington Post, "The Effects of Guilt Driven Parenting After Divorce," Donna Mott, Sep. 06, 2016

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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