New School Year, Renewed Relationships……
The Calendar Year Starts in
September for Many Families
One of the most serious fall-outs of divorce is the loss or diminished child/parent relationship. While some relationships might end as a result of parent alienation (see post on the meaning of family) – a common reason, often overlooked is “realistic estrangement” – when a child chooses to end, or reduce the time spent with a parent. The reasons are varied and may include ineffective parenting, substance abuse and domestic violence.
How do you maintain a relationship with your children, when their priorities change from family time, to focus on school and friends?
1. Re-frame your thinking – don’t measure time spent with your children in quantity – minutes and hours, but in terms of the quality of time you are spending.
2. Be creative – keep the relationship going by doing what is in their best interest – driving them to programs, helping them with homework, ask them what they need from you. By doing so, you get to know who their friends are, understand what they are doing at school, and you will open up conversation.
3. Let them know you care – create a family calendar. A schedule of extracurricular programs, events and school events will allow you to stay connected. It will also send a positive message that you want to stay involved.
4. Get with the program – children communicate through many mediums – text messaging, instant messaging, phone and more. Staying connecting on their terms goes a long way to maintaining a healthy positive relationship. Learn the texting short forms. It’s their language and you need to know it.
5. Be introspective – If you find your children withdrawing from a relationship with you, ask yourself “what am I doing?” to contribute to this dynamic. For instance:
a. Do you put your needs before your children’s needs?
b. Is your behaviour affecting the relationship – alcohol or substance abuse, anger management issues, domestic violence, and more- seek out the help you need to get your life in order so that you can become a good role model and better parent.
c. Is your new partner (if you have one) affecting this relationship?
d. Have you ignored the relationship because of your relationship with your new family (if you remarried, or are living with someone)? Think about the damage you are doing to your children from your first family.
Don’t allow yourself or your children lose interest in the relationship. Children are the ones who live out the divorce. As parents, we owe it to our children to give them the best life possible, not a life filled with complications, despair, and a feeling of not being wanted. Children ARE the greatest love of all let them learn and lead the way. And in the process you have developed a bond to last a lifetime.
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