In Family Therapy, Divorce Is A Family Transition, Not A Family’s End
It may seem counterintuitive to consider family therapy when parents have begun or finished divorcing. What can be helpful, though, is to think about divorce as a family transition rather than a family’s end. While divorce absolutely involves loss and grief, the parents’ relationship isn’t terminated when kids are involved. It’s altered.
By using the framework of change rather than an end in family therapy, families can find the ways in which they are still connected to each other. This creates space for collaboration, which is immensely beneficial to kids. After all, they’re still maintaining relationships with both parents, regardless of the state of the marriage itself.
Divorced Families May Have A Tougher Time Managing Negativity And Blame: We Can Help
Often the goals for divorced families are the same as non-divorced families, including dispelling damaging assumptions family members have about each other, increasing and improving communication, and helping parents work together as a team. However, divorced families may have a tougher time managing negativity and blame, but this makes family therapy all the more useful in navigating the process.
Separation and divorce have the potential to bring out people’s worst tendencies, and can exploit carefully protected sensitivities. Multiple family members may experience feelings of disappointment, frustration, despair, and rage. These intense emotions can make families dread the thought of sitting in a room together. But a competent family therapist can lead family members through expressing themselves, finding common ground, and confronting the realities of each other’s feelings. We know how to keep things manageable, while allowing conversation to flow.
Navigating The Shift In Parenting In Family Therapy
One of the biggest struggles divorced or divorcing families face is navigating the shift in co-parenting. Families have to create new routines and schedules, and everyone feels the impact of things being different. This is a crucial opportunity for parents to partner with each other for the good of the kids during what feels like the hardest time to be patient, flexible, and charitable with each other. We help parents refocus on their kids, and discover shared values that can help them navigate disagreement and anger more effectively.
Family Therapy Facilitates Open Communication To Get Everyone On The Same Page
Divorcing families can also struggle significantly with communication. Parents splitting up can create chaos and destabilization for kids, especially when information is murky or spotty. Family therapy can facilitate open communication, giving family members–often the kids–a chance to ask questions.
We also help parents get on the same page with the message they want to send to the rest of their family: ideally, some variation of, “We are splitting up. We love our kids very much, and are committed to being respectful co-parents.” When everyone knows what’s going on, and when parents are still a united front, kids often weather the transition with much less disruption to their lives and wellbeing.
Divorce May End A Marriage, But It Doesn’t Have To End Family Relationships
Clear and consistent communication also protects family relationships during a difficult period of change and stress. When kids don’t know what’s going on, they come to their own conclusions (“Dad doesn’t want Mom to be a part of the family anymore” or “Mom hates Dad”). This can create anger and resentment in the kids’ relationship with their parents, making a difficult situation even worse. Having the chance to talk about things openly as a family brings all the feelings and beliefs into the light where they can be validated and/or challenged in a loving way. Divorce may end a marriage, but it doesn’t have to end family relationships.