Divorce Answered

Divorce Answered

When you are a parent and your relationship is over, it is likely to affect you and your child. You are likely to experience a range of emotions as your circumstances change and your future becomes uncertain. These emotions can influence the way that you parent, discipline, support and motivate your child. There are five emotions, in particular, that can shape your approach and responses to your child.

The following five emotions can change your parenting style when your relationship ends.

  1. GUILT. Breaking the family unit can come with a lot of guilt – especially for the parents who simply grew apart. Some parents riddled with guilt try to over-compensate for the adult decisions made and the impact that it has on the child  
  2. GRIEF. Breaking-up can make you feel overcome with sadness. This sadness can come unexpectedly and enormous waves. Some people could be laughing one moment and crying the next. It can be scary for your child to see you unable to contain your emotions. Finding the balance between being over-emotional and emotion-less is key in separation
  3. FEAR. Many parents who experience fear after separation are scared of their child either hating them for ‘destroying’ the family unit or are fearful that the child will choose the other parent over them
  4. ANGER. When you are angry, frustrated and sad, you may be likely to retaliate or lash out at those closest to you, and the people closest to you may be your children. You may snap at them, give short, gruff responses or feel burdened by having your child. Remember, your child isn’t the source of your issues. Make every effort to be present with your child when you are with them and leave the nasty emotions and reactions for when your child is asleep or when they are with their other parent
  5. STRESS. When you are feeling stressed out, it’s likely that you feel the weight of your shoulders. Many people feel that stress seeps in to many areas of their life, including their parenting. Stress can make you short, snappy, expect immediate action from your child and limited tolerance for your child not adhering to your requests. The pressure that accompanies stress makes focusing, finding peace and connecting with your child more difficult

Each of these four emotions can influence and impact the way that you parent your child, more often in a negative capacity.

Children of all ages thrive on boundaries and limitations. This doesn’t refer to resorting to harsh discipline like screaming, shouting and smacking. Rather, it is saying to your child that you are implementing consistent behaviours that are acceptable when in your care and dependable re-percussions when the boundaries are breached.  

Finding that firm and fair way of parenting while maintaining an emotional, secure connection with your child can be difficult for some people when they are going through a stressful time. Taking a moment regularly to assess your parenting abilities and style is helpful to remain the best parent that you want to be. You could ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Do you try to see the issue from your child’s perspective before reacting or responding?
  2. How do you respond to your child when they aren’t behaving in a way that you are happy with? 
  3. Do you create negative distance or a connected understanding when dealing with issues?
  4. When your child pushes-back when you assert your course-correction, how do you handle yourself? Are you rigid in your discipline, submissive to your child or open to negotiation and further communication?
  5. Do you consistently apply the same boundaries with your child or do you selectively apply the ‘rules’?

If you need additional help in parenting, you can book a Strategy Session for parenting support and guidance. Learn more here. Should you have persistent and ongoing concerns with the way that you parent or with your emotions, please consult your GP or health professional.

You may also like to read:

Helping your child through their divorce experience

Good things your don’t expect after a divorce