Post-Divorce Behavior that Dismantles Precious Intergenerational Boundary
Protecting Innocence & the Intergenerational Boundary
So many issues swirl around before and during a divorce. You deal with questions of money with financial worries like investments and debt. You may be surprised that you’re faced with social worries like whether you will lose friendships or social status. And, of course, perhaps the most paralyzing worry: the children. How can you give your kids a childhood of innocence and joy when they see their parents divorce? Is that even possible?
It is. But it requires work.
I sat down this week with Dr. Mark Banschick, child psychologist with training from Georgetown University and New York Presbyterian Hospitals, expert witness in custody disputes, author of The Intelligent Divorce: Taking Care of Your Children, and writer for Psychology Today. He has been featured on the CBS Early Show and quoted in The New York Times, CNN and USA Today. He recently launched a comprehensive online course, Intelligent Divorced Parenting to help parents deal more effectively with divorce even when confronted with a difficult former spouse.
The Leaver-Leavee Conundrum
Dr. Banschick identifies a dynamic that starts in the divorce (or the lead-up to the divorce) but that can have a long tail for the whole family after the divorce. It’s the leaver-leavee dynamic. Inevitably, one partner is taking charge in leaving. Those, the “leavers”, tend to feel relief when they finally go. They’re in a better place to parent. The other person is the one who is left, “the leavee”. It’s this latter parent who frequently takes out the pain, frustration and anger on the children. They may be irritable or depressed. And, more damagingly, they may overshare details about the divorce—details that children are too young to process in a healthy way. Children don’t need to know about infidelity or angry words.
The Intergenerational Boundary
Dr. Banschick refers to the intergenerational boundary (the line between the parent generation and the child generation) as a “holy boundary”. It’s sacred. Parents break that boundary when they treat children like friends, and complain about the other parent being bad, unfair or not doing things right. These comments—so easy and understandable—will destroy that sacred boundary. And the damage is long lasting. Once they’re adults, children often resent a parent for turning them against the other one.
Parenting after divorce can be tricky, but it’s critical that you never step away from your role as the mother or father. The parent-child dynamic is precious. Don’t allow divorce to rob you—or your children—of that bond.
This series with Dr. Banschick is more than just a review of an expert’s tips. In many ways, it will be a guide to how you can successfully navigate divorce with children in the kindest and most productive way.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.