A Roller Coaster of Emotions

Sad, Mad, and Discouraged

10 Problems with Many Workable Solutions

Anyone going through the process of separation and divorce needs to suit up, strap in, and put on a helmet. This is likely going to hurt. How long and how much is up to you. If you have children, may I suggest a Kevlar suit.

Please join me for my latest blog series: problems and possible solutions to shared parenting entitled: D.I.V.O.R.C.E. A Roller Coaster of Strong Emotions

  1. Strong Emotions – Hate
  2. Diagnosing your EX.
  3. Clinging to the Past
  4. F.E.A.R.
  5. Control of Thoughts and Feelings
  6. Experiential Avoidance
  7. Values GAP
  8. Acceptance
  9. Willingness to be Open, Curious and Imagine
  10. Good Enough Co-Parenting


Session 1: Strong Emotions – “I hate my Ex”

If your marriage was child-free, by all means, go ahead and spew away. Call them anything you can think of that helps you feel better, in that moment. Realize that if you are telling anyone for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time, that person has probably stopped listening. They may smile, for while as they watch you dance your anger dance with one foot nailed to the floor as you endlessly rotate, over and over again. (You may need to get new friends.)

If you did have children, everything you say about your ex-spouse, now co-parent, will impact your vulnerable child. If they are really young they may not know what the words mean but trust me, they hear the tone of your words. Like the child’s game concentration or match, kids put it together that you hate, blame, or actively dislike the other parent. What a gift!

One of the many set-ups down the road will be that your kids begin to wonder when it will be my turn? It is simple math. They will figure out that you once loved the other parent and now you hate them. That doesn’t bode well for them. They now carry the weight and wonder, “when will you speak so unkindly about them? when will you leave them?”

Working with parents post-divorce is challenging. When the divorce is over, the slow burn of unresolved conflict continues to put children in the middle. My practice has shifted from helping children whose parents have divorced to working with the parents who desire to learn how to co-parent and how to communicate.

Occasionally, I have a parent who cannot let go of their hatred for the other. Knowing how damaging this is for a child, I call out the parent. One of many ways to show-up as a parent is to address the black and white fallacy that the other parent is all bad. This black and white story is relayed as fact – the other parent is awful, and they cannot imagine their ex to be anything but awful. To the vulnerable child, that story puts them in the middle. They now carry YOUR story and its ball and chain of disdain.

My solution is to ask the parent, “on a scale of 0 – 100, how awful is the other parent?” The responses usually range from 80 to 100%. My second question is, “do you think your child agrees with you? What do you think your child believes, again 0-100?”  Rather strickenly, the typical response is “80 – 100%.” My third question is, “what if you are wrong and that is just not true?” I add that in fact, many kids say its more like 10 %.  The one holding on to the hate finds it hard to grasp that no matter how hard they want the other parent to be 100% awful, their child does not share this truth.  And they know that you do! Ugh!

Your child is physically and emotionally half of each or you; your DNA, family culture and history. When you put the other parent down you are essentially putting your child down as well. Think about it.

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