We all agree that divorce is a very stressful event. Psychologists agree that dissolving a marriage is in the top three life stressors. As if you don’t already have enough on your mind, the potential loss of a relationship with your child or children would only compound this tragedy. So what do you do when you and your former spouse have just gone through / are now going through a divorce, and somewhere along the way, your kids decided that it was all your fault?
Hang in there!
The most important advice we can offer you right now is to not give up! While it may be difficult and it may take a very long time to regain that vital parental relationship, never stop trying. Sometimes it might be easier to throw your hands in the air and say, “That’s it! I give up!” walking away is likely to be seen as a form of abandonment by your already angry child. That will only serve to bolster their negative views about you. Your former spouse might be contributing to the child’s negative view and maybe not.
Also don’t cut off contact with your child. No matter how much it hurts to be with them right now, don’t stop. Next, don’t allow them to put off being with you, even if neither of you enjoys time spent together. By staying tirelessly committed to the relationship with your child, even through the difficult times, you are proving to your child through your actions, that a relationship with them is important to you. Look, everyone understands that in the end, actions speak louder than words.
Love cannot be bought!
Another important piece of advice that we hear from the experts is this: don’t try to buy back their love. Don’t ever try to win them back by buying their affection or bribing them to be with you. Love is not toys or candy or money, and it never will be. It may seem like the fastest and easiest way to recover that floundering relationship with your child, but in the end, objects will never fill that void.
Children are more perceptive than people give them credit for and they will know soon, if not immediately, that you are trying to “buy back” their affection. At best, it will buy you a shallow and temporary replacement. At worst, it will do more damage to the relationship in the long-term by giving them less reasons to respect you and more reasons to question your credibility. That aside, it also sets a destructive pattern for your future relationship with them.
As divorce and custody attorneys we know how difficult divorce can be, but as parents we understand that a rift between you and your child is heartbreaking. Don’t give up. Hang in there and persevere. You can still rebuild that relationship, as long as you never stop loving them, and never give up. Join us next time as we wrap up this series on how to tackle this difficult subject with you children.