Q: I am divorced and share custody of the children. Whenever they go to be with my ex, I get so angry. Itís hard for me to keep it inside, and I say mean things. I donít like having to send my kids away and be without them part of the time. The way my ex parents the children is so different from how Iíd like them to be raised.
A: It may help you to take a different perspective. You have these precious children because of this ex relationship and you experience the gift of being a parent. While the situation is frustrating, you have been blessed with your children. Remind yourself of this. Focusing on the flaws of your exís parenting skills takes away from your own effectiveness and nurturing. Itís a distraction from living peacefully.
Concentrate your energies on loving them and feeling grateful for them. Spend the time you have with them instilling your ideas of wholesome values and principles.
Since you canít control how your ex raises the children, shift your attention to parenting, feeling, and thinking in the ways consistent with your beliefs about being a good parent.
Capture those angry thoughts and say, ďNo, I am not going to give my time away to anger and saying mean things. That just creates tension in everybody. What do my kids and I like? What do we need to promote loving relationships? What makes us enjoy each other as a family? We could play games, be involved in helping others and get together with relatives and friends.Ē
You can feel better by focusing your attention on modeling your healthy parenting habits.
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Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.
Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to the email address above or mail them to The Hamburg Area Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.
The column is by Suzanne Kline a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg area.