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How to make your children feel comfortable around both parents after divorce

Posted May 25

According to Huffpost Parents, divorced parents who complain to their children about their ex can put those children in a difficult and awkward situation where they can feel uncomfortable about expressing love for both parents.

"All parents need to be aware that when a child expresses love, admiration or respect for their other parent, it doesn’t diminish their love for you," Huffpost Parents noted. "Competition for affection between parents, divorced or otherwise, is a no-win road to alienating your children."

Parents who are supportive of their children spending time with the other parent are said to encourage their children to express themselves more freely.

"Be a caring listener, supportive in helping them find solutions for their challenges," Huffpost Parents noted. "Divorced or not, that’s what parents are for."

A method of achieving that type of ideal parenting in a divorce situation is called co-parenting, according to Huffpost Divorce, when a divorced couple with a child agree to cooperate in raising the child.

Co-parenting is not always an option due to conflict, emotions and regret. "You and your ex don't always have to co-parent to raise healthy kids," according to the Goodmen Project. "You just have to avoid conflict."

When conflict is unavoidable, another option in the interest of the children is parallel parenting.

“Parallel parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner," said Edward Kruk, an associate professor of social work at the University of British Columbia.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, talking to your child about the divorce in an appropriate manner, preferably with the other parent, can alleviate stress and make the child feel more comfortable about the situation.

Reassure your child the divorce is not their fault. "Children often believe they have caused the conflict between their parents," according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. "Many children assume the responsibility for bringing their parents back together, causing them additional stress."

Lastly, according to Huffpost Parents, it is important not to express a negative opinion about your ex-spouse when your child is upset. Positive feedback is key in order to encourage your child to be as happy and healthy as possible.

Megan McNulty is an intern for the Deseret News National Edition. Contact her at mmcnulty@deseretnews.com

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