Ensuring Your Friends Don’t Have to Choose Sides in Your Divorce
Navigating through a divorce is challenging, with emotional turmoil often leaving friends in an uncomfortable position where they feel the need to choose sides. Thankfully, this situation is avoidable. With the right strategies and empathy (Baxter & McEwan, 2023), you can alleviate this unnecessary strain on your friendships during this challenging transition.
Firstly, establish open communication. Speak candidly with your friends about your divorce (Brown & Levinson, 2023), assuring them that it’s not their role to mediate or choose sides. Make them feel valued and respected, appreciating their support without turning them into sounding boards for your grievances.
Next, avoid derogatory conversations about your ex-spouse in their presence. While expressing emotions is therapeutic, it can become harmful if it forces friends into an awkward position (Anderson & Ross, 2023). Keep conversations respectful, focusing more on your feelings than on your partner’s shortcomings.
There are six stages in the process of divorce, including emotional divorce, legal divorce, economic divorce, co-parental divorce, community divorce, and psychic divorce. The fifth stage, community divorce, is something you are aiming not to do, forcing your friends and people in both of your lives to choose a side.
Consider leaning on a professional, like a psychologist or therapist during this time (Wallace & Roberson, 2023). They can provide coping strategies, helping you manage emotions and prevent these from spilling over into your friendships.
Practice empathy towards your ex-spouse when with friends. This can create a safe space for your friends to engage with both parties without feeling guilty (Fisher & Shapiro, 2023). While it’s not necessary to hide your emotions, it’s essential to cultivate an atmosphere of respect.
Encourage mutual friends to maintain their relationships with your ex-spouse. Let them know that their friendships can remain intact, despite the divorce (Baxter & McEwan, 2023). This gives them the freedom to support both parties without feeling they are betraying you.
Lastly, take responsibility for your role in the divorce. This can be empowering and show friends that you’re dealing with the situation maturely, encouraging them to feel comfortable around you (Brown & Levinson, 2023).
Following these steps, your friends can comfortably remain neutral during your divorce. It allows them to continue their supportive roles without feeling torn between two parties.
Every parent getting a divorce in Florida is required to take the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Fortunately, we are a qualified DCF provider of this course. For more information, you can find our course here:
Also, if you are having trouble coparenting due to a high conflict situation, we have an online course for that too. For more information about our High Conflict Co-parenting Online Course, see this link here:
References: Baxter, L.A., & McEwan, B. (2023). The Impact of Divorce on Mutual Friends. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (2023). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Journal of Communication. Anderson, J., & Ross, V. (2023). Co-navigating friendships through divorce: A path to transformation. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. Wallace, S., & Roberson, P. (2023). The Role of Therapy in Divorce. Journal of Family Therapy. Fisher, R., & Shapiro, D. (2023). Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. Negotiation Journal.
Keywords: Divorce, Open Communication, Respectful Conversations, Professional Counselor, Empathy, Maintaining Friendships, Personal Responsibility, Mutual Friends.
Strategies for Successful Co-Parenting With a Parental Alienator
Co-parenting after a separation or divorce can be challenging, but it becomes exceptionally difficult when one parent attempts to undermine the other’s relationship with the child – a phenomenon known as parental alienation. Despite this challenge, it’s possible to navigate the path of co-parenting successfully. Here are strategies that may help.
Understanding Parental Alienation
Parental alienation occurs when one parent, the alienator, manipulates a child to reject the other parent without legitimate justification. These actions can cause significant distress to the child and the targeted parent (Kruk, 2018).
Promote Open Communication
Maintaining open communication is vital. Encourage your child to express their feelings, even if it’s about the alienating parent. This fosters an environment where your child feels heard and understood, building trust and respect (Bernet et al., 2017).
Maintain Consistency in Parenting
Consistency in parenting provides a sense of security to children. Regular routines, rules, and expectations can help mitigate the negative effects of parental alienation. Even when faced with resistance, consistency demonstrates your commitment and love for your child (Fidler & Bala, 2010).
Avoid Negative Talk About the Alienating Parent
It can be tempting to retaliate when you’re the subject of unwarranted criticism, but it’s crucial not to speak negatively about the alienating parent in front of the child. This shows respect for the child’s feelings and may reduce their internal conflict (Baker & Chambers, 2011).
Acquire Professional Support
Seeking professional help is often beneficial. A mental health professional, like a psychologist, can provide coping strategies and offer support to both the parent and child. Legal advice may also be necessary to address violations of custody agreements and protect the child’s rights (Warshak, 2015).
Remember the importance of self-care. Engaging in activities that promote well-being, like exercise or meditation, can provide the emotional strength needed to navigate this challenging situation.
Co-parenting with a parental alienator can feel like navigating a minefield, but with patience, understanding, and the right strategies, it’s possible to maintain a strong, loving relationship with your child.
Baker, A.J.L., & Chambers, J. (2011). Adult recall of parental alienation in a community sample: Prevalence and associations with psychological maltreatment. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 52(4), 246–263.
Bernet, W., von Boch-Galhau, W., Baker, A. J. L., & Morrison, S. L. (2017). Parental alienation, DSM-5, and ICD-11: Response to critics. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 62(3), 832–835.
Fidler, B.J., & Bala, N. (2010). Children resisting postseparation contact with a parent: Concepts, controversies, and conundrums. Family Court Review, 48(1), 10-47.
Kruk, E. (2018). Parental alienation as a form of emotional child abuse: Current state of knowledge and future directions for research. Family Science Review, 22(2), 141-164.
Warshak, R.A. (2015). Ten parental alienation fallacies that compromise decisions in court and in therapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46(4), 235-249.
Strategies for Effective Communication with High Conflict Parents
Handling a high conflict parent can be challenging and emotionally draining, but it’s a reality faced by many people, including co-parents, teachers, or family therapists. The keys to effective communication with high conflict parents are understanding, having empathy, while setting boundaries at the same time (Borba, 2023). This article will provide insightful strategies, supported by recent research, for successfully managing these interactions.
A high conflict parent typically possess unpredictable behavior, intense emotions, and a propensity for conflict (Walker & Dale, 2023). In such circumstances, maintaining a levelheaded, calm demeanor is critical. Remember that you cannot control the other person’s reactions but only your response. To manage your emotions, mindfulness exercises and self-care practices are highly recommended (Eisenberg, 2023).
Communication with high conflict parents requires patience, empathy, and strategic planning. When engaging in conversations, use clear, simple language, avoiding ambiguous phrases that could be misinterpreted. Applying the BIFF (Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm) approach can be beneficial (Jones & Schmidt, 2023). It entails delivering messages that are concise, factual, and unemotional while maintaining respect and assertiveness.
Listen attentively to the concerns of the high conflict parent, acknowledging their feelings without agreeing or disagreeing. This neutral stance is termed ‘active neutrality,’ and it can prevent escalation of disagreements (Martin, 2023). Remember, effective communication is not about winning an argument but seeking mutual understanding.
Documentation of communications can be vital when dealing with a high conflict parent, especially in custody cases. Keeping records of conversations, emails, and messages provides a factual basis if conflicts arise (Sullivan & Miller, 2023). Digital platforms like OurFamilyWizard or Talking Parents, specifically designed for co-parenting communication, can help ensure transparency and accountability.
When the conflict escalates beyond manageable levels, seek professional help. Trained mediators, therapists, and legal professionals can provide guidance and conflict resolution strategies (Brown & Robinson, 2023). They can help establish healthy boundaries and create a structured communication plan to prevent future disputes.
Remember, the welfare of the child should always be the primary focus. Involving children in parental conflict can be harmful and lead to destructive emotional outcomes (Parker & Richards, 2023). Keep conversations child-focused, aiming for co-operation and the child’s best interests.
In conclusion, effectively communicating with a high conflict parent can be challenging, but with the right strategies, it is possible. Focusing on patience, empathy, clear communication, and professional support can significantly improve the situation.
When a marriage dissolves, there’s a crucial challenge that often presents itself: crafting a parenting plan after divorce. The difficulty of managing shared custody arrangements is a challenge that affects countless families globally (Saini, 2021). However, through careful planning, effective communication, and a focus on the children’s best interests, divorced couples can navigate this often complex task.
A parenting plan is a written document detailing how parents will raise their children after separation or divorce (AFCC, 2023), including key aspects like living arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making responsibilities. According to Carlson et al. (2023), the goal of a parenting plan is to minimize conflict, foster stability, and promote a child’s well-being post-divorce.
Creating an optimal parenting plan requires a commitment to collaboration and a receptive mindset. Divorced parents should prioritize open, respectful communication, focusing on the needs and interests of their children rather than their personal differences. As highlighted by Peterson & Barlow (2023), possessing a child-focused perspective significantly reduces the stress and tension associated with the divorce process, thereby promoting healthier outcomes in relation to the child.
Furthermore, involving children in the development of a parenting plan is proved to have a positive impact on them. Recent research suggests that children who feel their opinions are valued in the planning process adjust much better to the extensive changes associated with divorce (Johnson et al., 2023).
One critical component of a successful parenting plan is flexibility. Parents should be ready to adjust their plan as their children grow and their needs evolve (Davidson, 2023). The objective should be to provide a stable, predictable environment that can also accommodate unexpected events or altering circumstances.
In the digital age, several online tools and apps can assist with developing and managing parenting plans. Apps like CoParently and OurFamilyWizard offer features such as shared calendars, expense tracking, and messaging functions (Carter & Castro, 2023). These digital solutions can facilitate smoother co-parenting, ensuring both parents remain informed and connected to their children’s lives.
Lastly, when navigating the complexities of divorce, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Psychologists, divorce coaches, family therapists, and mediators can provide valuable guidance and support in the development of a co-parenting plan (Williams & Young, 2023).
Creating a comprehensive, effective parenting plan after divorce is not an easy task. However, by focusing on the children’s needs, maintaining open communication, and utilizing the available resources, it’s possible to develop a co-parenting strategy that serves the best interest of everyone involved.
Dr. D’Arienzo’s Parenting Partnership Coparenting Model
Dr. D’Arienzo created his career around building, maintaining, and even deconstructing relationships in a healthy and skillful manner. Much of Dr. D’Arienzo’s work is involved in the divorce world, including custody evaluations or social investigations, evaluating other’s custody evaluations, testifying in court, parenting coordination, mediation, and divorce therapy. This work is full of intense conflict, as many people seeking these services have challenging personality characteristics or find themselves in relationships with those that do. The Gottman Method, a method that works well with marital therapy, seeks to improve relationships by rebuilding friendship, improving conflict resolution, and finding common purpose. Believe it or not, Dr. D’Arienzo has discovered divorced couples who are friends, who respect each other, and who do not attempt to control or change the other are able to co-parent well. In working with divorced couples and helping them co-parent, he recommends that these individuals take similar steps adopting the Gottman Method and applying it to high conflict couples which he has termed Parenting Partnership Co-Parenting Model or the A$$hole Free Approach to Co-Parenting. These steps are both successive and interdependent, meaning they build upon the each other linearly, straightforward; and each factor affects the other, and some factors may be stronger than others. For this to be effective, you want to successfully engage at each level together.
Step 1: Commitment to Co-parent
Each side must accept they are divorced, believe they are better off not being married with the other, and are eager to put their own needs aside to ensure their children’s best interests and needs are met. It is okay at this level to not be in complete agreement about what these best interests are, but there must be a genuine willingness and motivated desire to work with another person to co-parent the children.
Step 2: Maintain Open Communication
Each party must be willing to openly inform and involve the other parent in regards to their children’s events, activities, and potential decisions. The parties must also be willing to talk about their own needs, ideals, and wants. These must be shared, perceived or actual threat. Both parties must be open and willing to hear and must discuss what the other wants for the children.
Step 3: Foster Mutual Respect and Fondness
The parents must ensure the children believe that each parent (and step-parent) respect the other parent, words and actions. Offer praise the other parent in the child’s view. Ensure that they know you appreciate one another despite being separated or divorced.
Step 4: Joining Forces
In good times and tough times, Co-parents must seek out and give full support to the other parent in managing the children. Yes, it is necessary for both parents to be responsive for this to work. If one parent reaches out for assistance, the other must be there for support. Ideally both parents should be present for the children’s celebrations and during difficult times. This factor has the potential to be mismanaged, where one parent is too reliant on the other parent for assistance with the children. It is necessary that both parents do their part as a unified front and team.
Step 5: Conflict Resolution
If there’s an identifiable desire to co-parent, to have open communication, shared respect and fondness, and sense of joined forces, then it will be much easier to resolve disagreements. It is vitally important for parents to maintain control of their own sense of anxiety, need to be in control, and need to change the other person (refer to Step 1: Commitment to Co-Parent). When managed effectively, each parent will see each other in a positive light and give the other the benefit of the doubt. Here, both parents must act like adults, share experiences and wants, consider the ideas of the other, and understand how their past relationship continues to impact their ability to clearly identify and manage their emotions. Remember, you are no longer with this person. Your job is to control yourself and your emotions for the well-being of your child. There’s nothing to resolve about your former relationship and that relationship is over. The new relationship is that of a parenting partnership. It is up to each parent to take initiative to exercise, utilize diaphragmatic breathing, see a psychologist, do yoga or take a walk, receive acupuncture treatment, or do whatever it takes to control your physiology, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Remember this mantra, “Control thyself and not thy former partner”.
Step 6: Mutual Expectations and Mutual Appreciation of Individuals’ Desired Outcomes of Children
Each parent has a dream for their child. If lucky, both parents want similar things. If not, the parents must ensure and support each other’s dreams so they are illustrated, as the goal is to find balance in those dreams. For example, you may want the child to attend Harvard while the other wants them to find their way and consider taking a gap year after college. Parents may need a third party to assist in mediation and outlining a plan for them. As children move to their teen years, parents can also can participate in outlining their dreams as you will need their commitment to reach them as well. However, regardless of your child’s maturity, they still lack a full understanding for planning for the future. Parents should offer some level of guidance to ensure their children see their potential and is moving on a path towards that realization.
Step 7: Mutual Support for Renewed Identity of the Parents
In addition to the parent’s goals and dreams for their children to be facilitated and achieved, each parent must accept and support the new identity of the family, as well as the new identity of each individual parent. For example, expectations of the mother ensuring that the children’s homework is completed, or the father possessing the majority of the financial responsibility for the family may need to be resolved, and then fully embraced. Both parents are free to redefine themselves, but if they are to have a relationship and involvement with the children, the way in which the relationship is defined should also be in the child’s best interests.