The Relationship Blog

Establishing Your Power As A Divorcing Parent

Most of us want to feel that we can effectively make an impact on our children and be in charge in our own homes. The divorce process magnifies any issues parents have in this area due to all of the insecurities, fears, and sadness that is exposed during this time. The problem is further exaggerated because power is a very tricky commodity, and most of us don’t understand what real power is. So we try to push, demand, control, manipulate, yell, and underplay to just name a few ways in order to achieve it. Essentially, whatever you do will fall along a continuum from no power to pseudo power to real power. Knowing where you are on this continuum is the first step toward understanding the power that you have as a parent and the power which you desire. 

 

No Power

  • Abdicate by removing yourself totally from the children’s lives.
  • Maintain limited contact through occasional phone calls, letters, and visits but have no parental role in the child’s life.

Pseudo Power

  • Behave in a way that your children fear you through threats or abuse.
  • Buy your children with money and promises.
  • Negate the other parent through stories of their incompetence, reasons to distrust them, or cut them out of the picture.
  • Raise your voice so that it dominates the other parent.
  • Invalidate the other parent’s wishes and messages.
  • Argue constantly for your parenting style over the other’s way.
  • Only support your parenting position not the other’s view.

Real Power

  • No need to prove or defend your parenting style.
  • Join with the other to form a powerful WE.
  • Listen and respect your parenting partner in a way that the children can value.
  • Only talk to children when they are listening.
  • Establish clear boundaries that are not debated especially around safety issues.
  • Do not talk more than your child.
  • Do not debate with your child over fairness, intelligence, or other similar issues.
  • Do not discount or invalidate the feelings or thoughts of your ex or your children.

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