Hi - Welcome back! Readers to these pages will know that over the last few months I've been on a campaign. I've been hot on the trail of those separated or divorced parents who feel that it's OK to be openly hostile, sarcastic, aggressive or just plain complaining about their co-parent (i.e. ex-partner) in the presence of their children. I hope I've had some success - but with some people I've been meeting with face to face, they might have stopped midst complaint about The Other - whilst I've done my little rant - and then they've carried on anyway. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised (and fortunately their kids were not present at the time), as the research that I've read about this (and there is a limited amount) says this is a common dynamic - that parents can get so caught up in their campaign against the other parent, that they become almost oblivious to the kids in the crossfire. Yet no-one would say for a minute that these parents do not love their kids - they certainly do.
So if you are one of these parents - please give some thought to this over the coming holiday season, when kids are more likely to spend more time travelling between their two households. It is important to keep in mind, that the other parent, even if they have let you down time and time again, may be dishonest, unreliable, and maybe not even currently present in the life of your child, are STILL LIKELY TO BE A VERY SIGNIFICANT PERSON in the mind of your child. And that child needs to be able to evaluate their own view of their "significant other adult" without that view being tainted by stuff that sits with you and is likely left over from your couple relationship and its demise.
When I talk with separated or divorced parents, I suggest they be alert to this - their beliefs about their former partners' behaviours can become largely ingrained and habitual, and they may not even realise what they are doing/saying yet again. And maybe (if this is you) you no longer bad mouth or criticise him or her - that's great. But remember the small and subtle things you may be still doing in front of your kid: rolling your eyes, or sighing when the other parent's name is mentioned. Don't think for a minute that your kid does not know that you are doing this.
I'm not saying for one minute that you need to suddenly do a u-turn with your own beliefs about the other parent. But you need to remember that your views are your views and are shaped by your adult experiences from your former couple relationship. And to openly maintain this negativity in front of your kid/s can be potentially damaging to them in several different ways. And importantly, over time, your child will come to understand what is going on. This ultimately means that your negativity will also eventually intrude into your own relationship with your child - the last thing you want. It is important to demonstrate respect, and at least be able to speak positively about the other parent.
If this stuff resonates with you - go you, please have a voice for kids whom you know are living with this stuff. And please feel free to check out here what I mentioned last time around.
Here endeth my sermon! In this part of the world - we are all in wind-down mode, in the lead-up to the holiday season. Rightly or wrongly the whole of New Zealand will be getting ready over the next few days to shut down for around two weeks. Nothing much will be happening - at least in a sense of productivity, though it's a time for families to spend lots of time together. And, regardless of some of the stuff I've been rambling on about on these pages this year, it's good to remember that most families manage to put their issues aside, at least for the holiday season, and I hope this is the case for you....
If you need any help with anything I've mentioned today (or on any of the other posts), feel free to contact me here.
Happy Christmas/Talk soon....
PS: And about that New Year's Resolution thing? Let yourself off the hook this year....
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."