Separation and divorce affects children’s mental health when parents openly blame their ex partner. At separation or divorce parents often feel blame, anger, grief, loss, fear, anxiety. But children must be protected.
Take emotional care of your children when faced with the affects of your own angry and blameful feelings.
“.. a parent’s unconscious is a children’s first reality.”* You may think you have control of the anger and blame which affect your children, but it’s a fact, blame leaks.
- After separation you try to get the children on your side with blame of your ex in subtle ways.
- You don’t ask your children about what they did or ate with your ex. You make remarks, sighs, etc when they tell you. You never praise your ex after separation or show enthusiasm about things your children enjoyed doing.
- After separation you ignore their negative affects and feelings when they are struggling too.
- After divorce you make your children feel affected and responsible for you, often expressing loneliness, depression etc
- You over-burden and affect your children with blame and persistent grumbling about the divorce settlement, money, housing.
- You affect the children with blame and rage about ex’s new partner, the contact arrangements etc.
- You explain the separation to the children with blame added: instead of “We didn’t get on.” You say “S/he did …”
- You put your own divorce or separation narrative on social media for them to be affected by now or later.
Your separation was your partner’s and your mistake. You are probaly both responsible in some way or other. Do Not affect or burden your children with it – even if your partner is doing so.
Children have a right to feel liberated from their parent’s mistakes. You and they may grow up feeling appropriately sad about the separation. But you have the power to quell any sense of shame or blame. Even if your ex does the opposite.
After separation or divorce children need two parents wherever possible. You must strive to give them emotional access to your ex. They must be allowed to choose how and who they love for themselves in a blame-free way. Children can love two parents in different ways.
Caring for your children at separation equals caring for yourself. So give yourself breaks, treats. Take the affects of your blame or negative feelings elsewhere – friends, relatives, self-help groups, therapy.
You hold a key to your children’s lifelong mental health; use it.
With thanks to:
*The Neuroscience of Human Relationships by L Cozolino,
Breaking Upwards by Charlotte Friedman,
The Art of Loving by E Fromm
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