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Separated Parents: It’s not Quantum of Time, but Quality of Relationship

by Gary Direnfeld
October 2015 Gary Direnfeld

If you get hung up on the quantum of time, you may lose sight of the quality of your relationship now and for the future.

At the end of the day some separated parents fight tooth and nail over how the children’s time will be divvied up between them. Children are even drawn into the dispute, feeling a need to fight on a parent’s behalf. Parents whose children who are drawn into the dispute may find their children suffering emotionally and even academically. If emotionally, the parent may not even be aware as the child may seek to protect the parent from their upset.

As the child ages into adolescence and then adulthood, that same child may then come to resent having been embroiled in the parental conflict. In truth, many parents undermine their future adult relationship with their children the result of these issues at this earlier stage of life.

The challenge is to not count the minutes, but have a relationship your child can count on. Being there with your child not only in body, but in mind and spirit is the best gift a parent can provide a child and a gift that can better ensure a lifelong relationship, one that extends into adulthood.

In the hear and now, consider how your child’s experience of life will dispose them to spending time with you once they truly can make decisions on their own. Consider that how you act now can determine whether or not your son or daughter would want you to bounce their child, your grandchild, on your knee.

Those parents who can keep in mind the end game, a life-long relationship with their adult children may fair better with less time during childhood. This applies equally to both parents.

If you are a parent who is practicing restrictive gate-keeping, limiting the other parent’s time with the children, bear in mind there will come a time where that child will have the independence to seek their own relationship with either parent. Be cautious about not setting up the conditions for a boomerang effect where restrictive gate-keeping today compels your child to reject you in favor of the other parent tomorrow.

If you are the parent pushing for time beyond the comfort of the other parent, bear in mind that as your child ages, you may be viewed as creating ongoing conflict and hardship, real or not. This too can impact on your adult relationship with your children when they are of an ages to make independent decisions.

Parent do not have to find balance or equity in the residential arrangement of their children. They may have to address concerns of the other to facilitate greater flexibility and a closer approximation to a preferred outcome, without necessarily either achieving their desired outcome. In other words, be prepared for self-examination and addressing issues of concern regarding yourself. After that, concentrate on your own relationship with your children and let your children enjoy you in that relationship. Let the quality of that relationship then follow you to adulthood where you may continue to enjoy each other.

Think less about quantum and more about relationships. One doesn’t necessarily factor into the other.

 

Biography


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an 
expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, 
parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the 
TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead and the parenting columnist for the 
Hamilton Spectator. His book, Marriage Rescue is due out in spring 2013. Gary 
maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services 
for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North 
America.



Email Author
Website: www.yoursocialworker.com

Additional articles by Gary Direnfeld

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