How Guilt Over Your Divorce Cripples Good Parenting, by Joel Phillips

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Do you carry around something that you feel terrible about? Maybe you weren’t there for your child at a particular important event. I have that.
Maybe you feel like your child was robbed of a “normal” family life because of your divorce, or that your marriage isn’t healthy. I have that one too. As a parent who has been through the trauma of divorce, I have carried a lot of guilt. It’s understandable. But the unnecessary weight of guilt can cripple my effective parenting.

Divorce doesn’t have to be your source of guilt -it can be lots of things. I have known people who carry guilt because of physical defects and handicaps that their kids deal with. It can stem from all sorts of places.

Here’s how it typically works…

I don’t have my kids all the time, because they live with their other parent part of the time. I felt guilty about this, yet helpless to do anything about it and possibly even unaware of the guilt I had about it.

So when they came home, I wanted to make sure they have a good experience.

I didn’t enforce the rules much. We played a lot. I did the chores when they were gone so we didn’t waste any time. It was a little bit like the lost boys and I was Peter Pan.

Depending on how your family interacted and expressed love, you might cope with this differently; shower them with attention, buy them things they don’t need, or some other attempt to be their favorite parent.

Remember, you are driven to make sure they have a good experience when they are with you. At least that’s been my favorite excuse.

It comes from a good place, but in reality, it’s a trap. You want your children to feel loved and safe and you don’t want your time with them to be burdened by being a disciplinarian. So you let some things slide. After all, they will be going back to their mom or dad’s house soon, you rationalize, and they can take care of it.

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