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Why Are You Doing The Work of The Other Parent When Separated?

November 15, 2021

It’s not uncommon for one to really want to do what’s right for the kids while the other seems to work against their interests.

In wanting to do what’s right, some believe that they should make life appear as much as it did after the separation as before.

With that, the other parent is invited in for special occasions. That parent may even be chased, so to speak, to continue to see the kids. If time with the kids falls through, excuses to cover up for that parent may be offered. Meanwhile, that other parent remains disruptive, neglectful and at times yet abusive. Meanwhile, you continue to walk on eggshells around that person. Ask yourself, what are you chasing, pretending?

There is a psychological process known as mystification of experience. That is when we pretend that things are not what they are. It can create anxiety, depression, false hope, and a sense that we must tolerate that which should not be tolerated or accepted. It creates the sense we must live in a pretend existence. That is at the heart of mystification of experience, a false reality.

No one is saying to badmouth the other parent. However, one doesn’t have to go out of their way to present an illusion to cover up reality.

While it may be sad or disappointing for the kids to come to terms with the parent as who they truly are, that must be weighed against when the veil is lifted and they feel mislead by the one who sought to act in their interest. The kids can then wind up distancing themselves from both parents as they age.

Maintain your boundaries. You do not have to compensate for the failings of the other.

Rather, help your kids to cope with the adversity and disappointment they may face.

With that they develop a realistic view of their parent and situation. With that they learn to differentiate between people. With that they too learn to set boundaries and resist accepting the unacceptable. With that, they develop resilience, the capacity to overcome adversity. It’s ok to say no to intrusive demands and to resist making someone appear other than who they are.

No one has to intentionally be made to look poorly. They can do that for themselves and you can support your child’s adjustment, without compensating.

It’s not about withholding the kids. Sure, let them go when they can and assuming safe.

That exposure will help them learn more about that parent so they are less likely to develop a fantasy version and you can’t be scapegoated for withholding.

It’s about demystifying and learning to manage and cope with life as it happens. That is a skill for personal strength and adaptability.

That may be more in the kids’ interest than the chase for a false reality.

Just something to think about.

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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

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, former 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 Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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