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How to Create a Healthy Divorced Family

3 min read

By Pam Mirehouse
Aug 25, 2021

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Setting the goal or intention of having a 'healthy divorced family' during separation and divorce is a very important decision to make. It is a good thing to recall clearly, and often, during the difficult moments and decisions that will surface during the separation process.

It is especially important for your children. The right mindset and goal can relieve some of the negative emotions during day-to-day life as a single or co-parent.

Thinking about how the kids will benefit is infinitely better when you are adjusting to the thought of your ex having a new puppy at his house. The intention helps emphasize the fact that you can choose to be happy with the fact that your kids now have a new opportunity to bond with a puppy {an extra bonus: you do not have to deal with the house-training stains}. You can then release any jealousy without buying any kittens to compete, and can avoid adding to the competition with a Disney vacation. It becomes a win/win instead of a win/lose.

What is a healthy divorced family? It is very much like a regular healthy family.
  • A family that learns from mistakes and fixes things instead of blaming.
  • A family where both parents can be counted on to keep their word and be available.
  • A family where kids are allowed to act their age.
  • A family that encourages healthy dialogue and answers questions with both honesty and simplicity.
  • A family where no topic is off limits.
  • A family that remains flexible and has a problem-solving mindset.
  • A family that provides love, humor, and affection daily.
  • A family that models good self-care and self-respect.
  • A family that keeps adult conflict between the adults.
  • A family where both parents are actively involved in parenting.
  • A family where the parents are not competing with each other.
  • A family where the parents respect each other even when they disagree.

A healthy family really doesn't change much with a separation or a divorce, except:
  • Conflict may be more evident. Research is clear that divorce does not hurt kids—conflict does—so keep adult conflict away from your children.
  • There are usually two households. One for each parent, so there may need to be different rules and expectations at each home. Keeping things clear and consistent is helpful to kids. Children will cope best when they understand, and can make sense, of both the similarities and differences.
  • You need to grow from what may be dysfunctional to two versions of functional. You need to trust that your ex can, and will, be a good parent even if he or she has disappointed you as a spouse. Let go of the need to be right, or better, and embrace the differences. Let your kids know that they will be safe and okay at both mom's home and dad's home. (If you have any doubts, seek professional help!)
  • Good communication between parents becomes more critical and more difficult with two busy households and separate lives. I recommend Our Family Wizard to simplify things.
  • Good communication between the absent parent and their children is critical, but should be limited to emergencies or reasonable requests from the kids. Do not disrupt your child's time with your ex. Respect their time to be together, and expect your time with the kids will also be respected.
  • Do not change how you make decisions. When making decisions, always ask yourself: is the fact that you are a divorced or separated affecting what you decide? If so—why? Are you really deciding what will be best for your children?

Most kids, according to the statistics, come through a family breakdown fairly well if they have the support and help they need available. As separation and divorce become more common, and more accepted, our kids are less stigmatized than few decades ago. I hope you and your ex can agree to try to keep it healthy, and prioritize what your children need. If you both love your kids and prioritize them, and agree to set the intention of a healthy family despite divorce, you can create a more workable family dynamic immediately and well into the future.

If cooperation is not something you have as a co-parent, you can still make this your intention for the sake of your kids and try to live by it as best you can. 

If you are experiencing marital difficulties, please visit DivorceForcePRO to speak with one of our experts. To learn more about our Community, visit DivorceForce.com. 

Written by Pam Mirehouse

Pam Mirehouse is a CDC-Certified Divorce Coach®. She is a graduate of HealthCoachTraining® Program and holds a BSc Honours Biology from Queen's University. Pam works with men and women who are experiencing the end of their marriage. She is also a health and wellness coach. This dovetails well with divorce coaching, as health is often negatively affected by the stress involved in the divorce process. Learn more about Pam at The Separation Project.

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