Being divorced does not mean that the two of you cannot or should not be in counseling together!
If you and your spouse are co-parenting with on-going conflict, whether you know it or not, you are teaching your children that chronically stressful interpersonal conflicts are inevitable. You are modeling how to perpetuate conflict and, essentially, to blame others for difficulties in communication and conflict resolution. What’s a child supposed to do with that? Feel ashamed of, scared of or helpless in the presence of the other parent or people with strong emotion?
On the other hand, you could be teaching your children – through your own behavior - how to handle conflict with self-confidence as well as respect for the person or persons with whom they’re in conflict. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your children learned to deal with interpersonal conflict effectively, with all parties relatively pleased with the outcome?
Well, if you like the idea of modeling good behavior for your children after a contentious divorce and conflict-ridden co-parenting, participate in post divorce counseling with your co-parent! And, if your co-parent won’t join you, do it yourself! On your own, with your behavior only, you can learn healthy and effective communication skills that reduce conflict – which eliminate giving up or giving in. The lessons you’ll be teaching will not be lost on your children.
Post-divorce counseling teaches how to “speak to” or “negotiate with” your co-parent effectively. You can develop agreements that benefit both of you and your children. You can present your disputes in front of a third neutral party who knows how to guide and maintain a positive, respectful, healthy environment in which conflict resolution is likely to occur.
Because this is a form of mental health counseling, it is covered by health insurance. Financial burdens often increase following divorce, so using health insurance to help pay for counseling about interpersonal conflict and parenting should be considered.
Don’t wait. You and your children will have plenty of external problems to deal with over which you have may have little personal control. You and they don’t need unresolved stresses within the family – over which you do have personal control - to sap your energy, keep you angry and, eventually, make you sick.
I’d be happy to help you learn how to negotiate/resolve conflict within your family before, during or after divorce. It’s about the children – right?