Dr. Amy Stark
Child Psychologist, Author & Speaker
Teaching Families How to Live Divorced
and Self-Esteem for Girls and Boys
Food For Thought
Often times, either during or after a divorce, parents find it hard to feel positively about their ex partner. Because of the hurt or anger they feel, they then find it even harder to encourage their child to have a relationship with the other parent. Everything they do not like about their ex is suddenly magnified and because they no longer have to live with their ex, they suddenly feel their child shouldn’t have to deal with them either. Then, much to their dismay they realize that the court wants to insure that minors have positive relationships with both their parents. Its healthier…and after all, your child is part of both of you. So, how do you promote the relationship between your child and their other parent, when you feel that your child should not even have to deal with them. Firstly, you need to change your mind. Thats the only thing you actually have control of. Secondly, remember that your child is part you and part your ex. Remember that if you are hateful about your ex, your child then internalizes those feelings…after all, they might have their haircolor, their mannerisms or their sense of humor. Your anger towards their other parent does not help them feel good about themselves. Separate out your issues. The problems you had with your ex are YOUR problems. Don’t make them your child’s problems. DO not discuss court, your feelings or your adult issues. What is your child supposed to do with all that information? Try to let your child know that you want them to have a good relationship with the other parent. Remember that if you don’t allow your child to create a healthy relationship with their other parent, chances are they will play out their issues with every adult relationship they have. If you can not keep your issues to yourself, seek therapy. These issues should be discussed with another adult, not your child. Encourage your child to see their parent. Point out the positive things they get by spending time with them. Let your child develop their own relationship with their other parent. Do not discuss every aspect of every visit. Let them know you are happy they had a good time. I often encourage parents to think about why its important for their child to have a good relationship with both parents by writing it down. What does having two parents do for your child…what does it give them. When you clarify the issues for yourself you can communicate more clearly. The greatest gift you can give your child is the permission to love both of you.
Dr. Stark's Web site is not intended to take the place of a court-ordered advice or the advice of another professional. Although you may use the input found here to your best advantage, we recommend that you do so in conjunction with the work that you are doing with your individual therapist. Remember: this Web site is not therapy; it's knowledge and support.
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