Custody decisions should find the right balance that allows both parents to actively parent.
As you go through a divorce, you may experience feelings of anger, betrayal, or loss. The last thing you want to lose is time with your children. This holds true for both Mothers and Fathers. In making decisions regarding custody and shared time, it is your duty as a parent to process the difference between what is best for you and what is best for your children. Often, it is difficult not to allow your own emotions to spill over into decisions that involve your ex-spouse. It’s important to remember, however, that if your children lose a parent- your children lose. They are innocent by-standers in this process, so you should never punish your children in the process of punishing your ex.
All the research supports that children do best with two involved parents. This doesn’t include an every-other-weekend-fun parent. What I have found in my work with divorced families is that parents who took a passive parental role during the marriage, will typically step it up when the responsibility of caring for their child on their own becomes a reality.
When processing decisions regarding custody, try to focus on your ex-spouse’s relationship with your child, not just your anger for them. (I realize, this is hard to do because you are choosing to end the marriage). Ask yourself: Are they a good parent? Do your children value that relationship? What would your children lose in losing time or a relationship with that parent?
Do’s and Don’ts When Making Child Custody Decisions
Make decisions based on what makes sense for both parent’s work schedules
Make decisions that allow both parents to be actively involved in school homework, extra-curricular activities, religious traditions, time with friends, etc.
Create a schedule that values the child’s relationship with both parents.
Make decisions based on your finances “I will get more child support if…” Or “pay less child support if…”
Make decisions to punish “I will show them…”
Make decisions out of anger, “They did this to me, therefore they deserve it.”
It’s perfectly normal to have angry thoughts about your ex and you may need time to process, vent and deal with those feelings. But the best time to make decisions that affect your child’s life is when you are able to put your own emotions aside so you can think more clearly from your child’s perspective. You are getting a divorce, your child is not. In almost every situation, your child is better off with two involved parents in his or her life.
Meet our Guest Blogger, ERICA GREGORY, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Director, & Owner of John’s Creek & Alpharetta Counseling
Erica is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that offers Couples Counseling & Play Therapy for Children. She offers AAMFT approved supervision for associate level counselors. She graduated from Mercer School of Medicine with a Masters in Family Therapy in 2010. She is the Clinical Director and Owner of JCAC. She has specialized training and supervision in Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling and is working toward becoming a certified EFT therapist under Michael Burnett. She believes that a strong family is built upon a healthy and loving parental relationship.
Erica also works with children who struggle with depression, anxiety, bullying, trauma, and difficult transitions (divorce, adoption, or a move). She utilizes experiential and attachment based play therapy. In addition, Erica has experience working with mental illness such as Depression, Anxiety, & Bipolar disorders.
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