High levels of parental conflict have consistently been shown to be among the most destructive factors in both intact and divorced families. Currently, we have an epidemic of children caught up in the chaos and turmoil of parental conflict. Studies show that in the United States, on average, 50% of all marriages will fail, and that out of those that fail, 30% will become high conflict divorces. Unfortunately, the conflict doesn’t end when the divorce is final, and this leaves the children of these high conflict relationships at risk in many areas of their life: emotionally, physically, educationally and financially.
Managing High Conflict Divorce Through Disengagement
In a divorce where children are involved, co-parenting is the ideal approach. However, the reality of the situation is there are different rules a child has to follow in each of their parent’s homes. The difference between co-parenting in a low conflict divorce and that of a high conflict divorce is the ability of BOTH parents to allow the other to parent. Each home will have different rules. It’s important for each parent to trust the other is competent to make the right decisions and be willing to talk about what is going on with the children.
Genuine Expectation Opportunities (GEO’s)
During a high conflict divorce keeping focused on a more positive future is essential. It’s equally as important, if not more important, to help your children focus on this as well. Unavoidable events related to divorce (court dates, dispositions, settlement issues, custody issues, etc) affect a child just as they affect you. It’s essential to know what is going through your child’s mind through all this, help them cope and ensure them you are with them now and forever.
Change Your Perspective: Victim to Victor
It can be extremely difficult to let go of the conflicts that caused a marriage to fall apart. However, it’s vital we disengage ourselves. Failure to do so may negatively affect the way we react to situations post-separation. Change your thinking and treat this time as an opportunity to give yourself fresh start on life. Don’t dwell on or analyze the circumstances that caused the divorce to happen.
The Game of What If
Recently while sitting with a client and listing to her tell her story I was hearing victim statement after victim statement. I stopped her and asked her if she was hearing her own word. She replied, what do you mean, and I told her she kept using statements of victimhood and that she needed to listen to how she was addressing the situation. This mind you is a woman that had been through the HCDP and worked with me quit extensively.