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Vengeance, competitiveness defeat good co-parenting

Divorce can be an unpleasant process that gets longer and more quarrelsome when child custody issues are not easily resolved. Many divorcing New York parents assume that once custody is established, a settlement is reached and a court decree issues the relationship is over.

That may be true for some ex-spouses, but it is not the case for divorced parents with shared children, as a therapist points out in a recent news article.

Divorce severs the legal bond between married adults. It alters, but does not eliminate, the ties parents have with each other through their children. Co-parenting doesn't end as much as it morphs after divorce.

Families and conjoined responsibilities continue, even when marriages do not survive. Ex-spouses learn to fulfill parental duties and children's needs in new ways after divorce.

According to the therapist, the cooperation skills divorced parents require may even be more necessary than when they were married. Separate households, demanding schedules, new relationships and communication challenges come with the territory of raising children together while living physically and legally apart.

Some former spouses retain anger, hold onto jealousy or seek emotional revenge against a former partner. Argumentative, vengeful co-parenting affects unintended victims -- children.

Remote control parenting is damaging, according to the therapist. Unless children are in clear danger, a parent who muscles in on an ex's parenting time or cross examines children after a visitation is wrongfully attempting to exert full control. Child rearing styles differ from parent to parent. That doesn't mean one style is superior.

Former spouses sometimes engage in competitiveness. Children love both parents. Forcing them to compare can confuse and alienate them, according to the therapist.

Some spouses try to undermine an ex by withholding or delaying child support. The effort is illegal and counterproductive. The financial pain intended for a custodial parent ends up stressing children and threatening their welfare.

It is not necessary to like an ex to be a good parent. Family professionals say it is imperative for divorced parents to move forward with the goal of raising functional, happy children even if it means curbing negative adult behavioral tendencies.

Source:, "You May Be Divorced, But You're Still a Family," Virginia Gilbert, Aug. 3, 2012

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