Separated Parent Syndrome?

Okay so I will admit I made that up, it’s not a known disorder as far as I’m aware, but is certainly something that seems to be a spreading epidemic.  Of course I’m not attacking people for choosing to go their separate ways, but I do want to discuss how the child/children become deeply affected by the separation depending on how the parents deal with their personal issues with one another.

It seems to me (from both personal experience and from witnessing others), that so often when the parents decide to live apart from one another, that they so often lose sight of their priorities.   What I mean is that regardless of planned pregnancy or not, once a child is in this world, that child should be the most important thing in both parents lives.  In so many cases of separated parents, the priorities start to deteriorate and become all about point scoring between mum and dad.  The child’s emotional and mental well being are soon forgotten in this battle, and whilst both parents may well be continuing to take care of the basic physical needs of the child, they forget that the child is caught in the middle of their battle.

So often an absent parent feels, and unfortunately shows anger towards the parent with care, because they feel they have the short end of the stick.  They miss their child and want more time with them and find it difficult to resolve these issues internally.  What is important to remember is that the child feeling stable and secure is THE number one most important thing here, and that means they need a regular routine regarding daily life and regarding visitations with the absent parent.  They too will be finding their life without the absent parent more difficult, even when handled with the utmost care.

And the parent with care feels and shows anger towards the absent parent because they feel they are having to do all the work, have all the responsibility, pay more money out and then have to be inconvenienced with having to listen to the child go on about how wonderful the absent parent is, because they get spoilt when they see them, or get frustrated by how the absent parent might not stick to the same boundaries and rules that they set for the child at home.

When one of the parents is absent the child will miss him/her, they are already losing out on something precious.  They miss being able to say goodnight each night, to give a hug and a kiss, to be read stories too by that parent, to have them at school events.  They feel that loss in their life already without then over hearing their parents speaking negatively of the other or complaining about how unfair the arrangements are on THEM.

Being a parent is about being selfless and that includes refraining from negative discussions about the other parent OR to the other parent anywhere within the vicinity of the child.  And if you think they can’t hear you because they are upstairs in their room, you are absolutely wrong!  Not only this, but it is about telling the child and reassuring the child that the other parent DOES love them, even when you yourself might not believe that.  YOUR child NEEDS to feel loved by BOTH of you!  And as the child’s parent it is your responsibility to ensure they feel that, it is your responsibility to work as a TEAM with the other parent to maintain that feeling of security, stability and love in your child no matter how you feel about the other parent or about how unfair you are being treated.

I am the child from divorced parents, I still feel the hurt from hearing my parents bad mouth each other, whether done in a passive way or an aggressive way.  Comments like “she loves you, but you know what she’s like”  ARE absolutely NEGATIVE, we do understand the implications!  Even comments like “he’s a good day but was an awful husband….”  are negative!  How would you feel to hear ANYONE saying or implying something bad about one of your parents?  How he/she treated you is NOT your child’s problem and they should not be brought in to it!

Dropping your child off on the corner of the street so you don’t have to see the other person IS negative!  It makes it perfectly clear how you feel about the other parent. Smiling at the door but with a vindictive tone in your voice whilst you say nice or neutral words IS negative!  And all the other methods you might use to score points with the other parent, whilst you think  you’re hiding it from the child IS negative.  Children are not stupid, they pick up on the manipulation, the vindictiveness, the point scoring, the negativity no matter how skilled you think you are at hiding it!

Would you want someone saying those things to your child about you?  Think about that the next time you say something about the other parent to your child.  You might not care if the child thinks bad about the other parent, but it becomes more than that, it becomes long term hurt and damage and emotional instability in your child’s life.  Perhaps you feel that benefits you because you can be the ‘good guy’ the ‘comforter’ the one that gets to give them cuddles and soothe their pain as they grow.  It makes you feel important, special, wanted and needed.  YOU YOU YOU YOU!

The love for your child should be entirely about them, what is best for them, what is good for them, what makes them feel happy, secure, loved, COMPLETE and emotionally stable.  It should not be about how you feel, whether you feel you are being treated fairly.

This means for the absent parent to let go of their anger, to try to understand that the other parent is working hard to look after the child on a daily basis, providing for them, getting them up, dressed, bathed, to school, helping with homework – all the difficult and thankless tasks that are involved in raising a child, and that whilst they are doing that they have to hear the child brag about their wonderful weekends with you where they get to stay up later or go to special places with you or be bought special treats.  With you it’s like their birthday every day!  They rarely appreciate what they get or how much the parent with care is doing for them!  So whilst you get to have all the fun, the other parent gets to do the bad stuff like discipline, rules and boundaries as well as the monotonous stuff like housework and cleaning up after the child on a daily basis.

For the parent with care it’s about understanding that the other parent would swap places with you in an instant, they would happily take on board all the hard work you have to do for your child, but that choice is out of their hands and instead they are feeling an emptiness in their lives, they are missing out on seeing their child every day, missing the hugs, kisses, goodnight stories, tucking them up in bed, enjoying meals together, maybe their first milestones even.  They miss the laughter, the smiles, hearing their child play, knowing they are safe upstairs in their room or getting to know the child’s friends and teachers.  When they do see them of course it will be difficult to maintain boundaries and rules and not to spoil them, how would you feel if you didn’t get to see your child often? You’d want to do whatever you could to make each time you see them memorable, and to make them happy and hear them laugh or watch their faces light up with happiness.

Try to show tolerance, understanding and compassion for one another’s situations, no matter how hard you think you have it and no matter how easy you think the other has it, you’re undoubtedly wrong!  I can guarantee the other person is feeling as much hardship as you are, feel as torn as you do and that by allowing your own insecurities to rule your actions, all you are doing is damaging your child and maybe the bond they have with yourself AND the other parent.

When it gets too much to bare as the child gets older, when they can’t cope with the drama any more, when they are tired of being put in the middle or being invisible, when they are fed up of the name calling or whining about how hard you have it and being forced to take sides, they’ll walk out of your life and never look back.  Because it comes a time when we learn that you aren’t going to ever consider our emotional well being and the only person that can is ourselves, we will learn to rely on ourselves and protect ourselves from being hurt by you any more.  And unlike your choice to be with someone that wasn’t the right person which resulted in years of heartache for both of you, it wasn’t our choice to be the child of such a situation.  We didn’t make the mistakes, we’ve just been made to pay for them.  We’re the victims, the fall out.

No matter how much you THINK you hurt, WE ARE HURTING MORE!  No matter how unfair you think you are being treated or how unfair you think you have it, IT IS MORE UNFAIR TO US, no matter how innocent you think you are in the situation, how it’s not your fault, how you did nothing wrong and don’t deserve this, how you are the victim – WE THE CHILDREN ARE MORE INNOCENT, LESS DESERVING AND THE TRUE VICTIMS.

So all of you, grow up, be the ADULT, be the PARENT, and put your children first, put aside your grievances, forget about who hurt who or who was at fault and work together as a team to raise your children selflessly with love and care.

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