In Divorce, Don’t Let Power Shift to the Kids

Divorce will throw your family dynamic into a tailspin. That’s normal.

But you must eventually regain your footing, or it can result in a long-term power imbalance. You may find that your children are in charge – instead of you and your ex!

This isn’t good for anyone. Children need limits. They need guidance. This is a crucial part of our roles as parents, and that doesn’t change after divorce.

It’s important to understand the behaviors that lead to power imbalances, as well as behaviors that can prevent our kids from taking control.

First let’s look at reasons why the power often shifts to the children.

We Want to Gain Our Child’s Affection

Joint custody agreements usually end up in each parent seeing their children less, which can feel as though it weakens the parent/child relationship. To compensate for not seeing their children as often, many parents resort to a friendlier role in an attempt to win their affection.

When we slip into the role of our child’s “friend,” we lose our ability to be our child’s parent.

We Are Still Struggling to Get Back on Our Feet

Getting a divorce comes with feelings of loss, heartbreak, and self-doubt, which can make a parent feel weak or vulnerable. Any newly single person has trouble getting back into a normal routine, but it is especially hard for single parents.

The role of a parent requires great strength, discipline, and energy. If a parent is still struggling to get a hold of themselves after a divorce, they may be less successful completing their duties as a parent.

Difficulty Fulfilling a Co-Parent Role

You and your ex have entered a new phase in your relationship. You may no longer be lovers, spouses, roommates, or even friends, but you still have to maintain a relationship as co-parents.

If you do not see eye to eye with your co-parent, children can use inconsistencies in your parenting styles and your rocky relationship to their advantage.

Your child becomes the one thing that you and your ex still have in common; that fact alone comes with a lot of potential for power.

How to Stay in Control After Divorce

Now you understand some of the reasons that power might shift to your kids. Let’s talk about a few ways you can prevent the power shift or regain power.

Use Time Away from Children to Build Yourself Back Up

Understanding the phrase “you cannot pour from an empty glass” is especially important as a newly single parent. When you do not have the responsibilities of directly watching your child, focus on building your strength as a person.

When your child visits you next, you will feel more refreshed and ready to focus on your duties as a parent.

Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Your Co-Parent

You still have a very important relationship with your ex, despite your divorce. Put aside romantic or marital differences when you are communicating about your roles as co-parents.

Understand your ex’s rules as a parent and try to keep things consistent so your child is not confused when they are staying with a different parent. Communicate about your child’s behavior, and be sure to follow up with any issues that your ex is addressing.

This is often easier said than done, so don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Working with a New York divorce coach can make a big difference in successfully transitioning into your new roles.

Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries

Even if you and your ex have different methods or rules of parenting, your expectations need to be clear when your child is in your home.

From the very start of this new relationship, set rules – and follow up with the appropriate actions if they are broken. Maintain boundaries as a parent and remind yourself of the dangers of the “friend zone.”

Divorce requires changes, but with patience and discipline, you can still help your child grow into the best person they can be, while enjoying the life you want to live.

Rooting for you!
Sara Freed

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