Monday, January 25, 2010

Divorce and Parenting by Guilt

Some parents feel badly about their separation in view of the kids and are reluctant to follow through with expectations or alternately; they try to buy their children’s affection with toys or favors.

These parents may think they are compensating for the child’s distress over the separation, but they are really trying to assuage their own guilt. While the kids may enjoy the shower of gifts and special liberties, this only gives rise to self-righteousness – a sense of entitlement where they think they can have whatever they want and rules don’t apply. Even though parental separation may be distressful, it can be overcome. A developing sense of self-righteousness can lead to selfish, self-centered, out of control children and can last a lifetime.

Parents are well advised to continue parenting on the as if principal. That is to say, they parent as if they were still together – not separated. The same rules, routines, limits and expectations apply; there are no special favors and no purchasing of extra toys and games. If the children are distressed, parents should talk with them and normalize their upset, not let them get away with inappropriate behavior or compensate with inappropriate favors or gifts.

Even if one or other parent appears to not heed this advise, this is no reason for both parents to let go of appropriate parenting. Kids need at least one responsible parent who will teach right from wrong, set limits and routines and won’t spoil the child with a shower of gifts.

If parents are concerned that their child will complain or use the difference to manipulate them to grant favors as the other, these parents must still stand their ground. The solution is not to run down the other parent for spoiling the child, but rather to concentrate on being appropriate parents themselves.

To continue reading this article, click here.

For more information, contact the Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at


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