Skip to content

Separated and Still Fighting Over the Kids? You May Be Screwed.

April 4, 2016

Screwed? It may not sound professional, but it is many parents’ reality.

You partnered with a person who you thought was nice and you learned through the relationship it wasn’t so. Along the way, you created a child together and now you are joined in parenthood forever.

In your disdain for and concern about the other, you seek to limit the child’s exposure to that other parent.  The belief is that in limiting access, the child will be less affected by the parent’s issues.  On that basis you extol the best interests of the child and set out to fight the good fight.

Here’s the rub. That child’s best interests also includes a meaningful relationship with both parents. To add, in intact families you don’t have to be a perfect parent. You don’t even have to be a good parent. You only have to be a barely adequate parent. Parents in intact families can be nasty and personality disordered and downright dirty. Unless so abusive or neglectful that the child protection agency steps in, that family is left to carry on. And by the way, do not read into this that you should make a report to your local child protection agency, because if you do and your claims aren’t upheld, that can backfire on your credibility and cause you to look the scoundrel.

As you extol the best interest of the child, believing that to be limiting access to the other parent, the court is likely to more consider the best interest to include a meaningful relationship with both parents. The court also realizes that parents do not have to be perfect, let alone good, but merely adequate. So as you fight the good fight, your behavior becomes a reflection on yourself. There’s a saying, when you get in the mud with a pig, you get dirty and the pig gets happy.

The take-away here is that it is not necessarily the scoundrel who is screwing you. You may be screwing yourself by fighting more and seeking to limit the other parent’s time, relationship and/or decision making authority. No matter how crazy a parent may actually be, very few parents want to see their time or authority with their children stripped away so of course there is a fight.

The real challenge in these situations is finding a way to achieve a balancing point where both parents may plug their noses to come to an agreement both can live with although not love. The other challenge is to manage one’s own feelings about the situation so as not to contaminate the child’s perception of either parent. These things also come home to haunt parents when their issues spill onto their child.

Helpful in these situations is finding a way to live with a lousy situation. Interestingly, those parents who do learn how to cope and manage instead of fight, can have a better outcome. Their children will learn for themselves the issues of both parents and by no longer fighting, if or when you child is legitimately in distress, then you are in a better position to provide support. The service of choice in these situations is a separation coach.

The separation coach is not there to change the other parent, but to help you develop those coping and communication strategies to make the best of a bad situation. The separation coach works with only one parent to facilitate that self-parent’s management of emotions and communication skills.

Tired of feeling screwed? Consider a separation coach. Not the be all end all, but an opportunity for a different way of getting by. It’s bad enough when someone else is out to screw you. It’s worse if you are inadvertently screwing yourself. Please excuse my bluntness.

Know someone who might benefit from this information? Please scroll down and share this article. To view my full list of peacemaking strategies to facilitate settlement, check this out.

(Download this article as a one page PDF file to use freely.)

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Linked In

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on ecarrollstraus and commented:
    On the money, as always

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: