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April 12, 2015
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This is one of a series of lesson-6 articles
on howtoparent effectively - specially after divorce.
article assumes you're familiar
the custodial parent and their new partner
(the child's stepparent) may argue over how to respond to the
"disinterested ex" - specially if the ex mate doesn't pay appropriate
These interactive problems raise home and family stress and lower the
nurturance level. That
wounds in dependent kids.
A typical response to these problems is to blame the "disinterested"
adult as being "irresponsible," "uncaring," and "a bad parent."
option is to try and understand their behavior and set respectful
limits with them. Their "disinterest" is probably a symptom of several
things average parents are unaware of: psychological wounds + shame + guilt
+ incomplete grief + ignorance + disrespectful, combative behavior by their
Often, the custodial parent also has many of these stressors, and
denies or minimizes that. Their kids are trapped in a low-nurturance
family whose adults inherited the [wounds + unawareness]
from their ancestors.
What can typical biofamily and stepfamily adults do to minimize the impact
of these combined stressors?
multi-home family is stressed by a "disinterested" (inactive, uninvolved) bioparent,
try describing your adults' and kids' current ways of coping with that. Is
this way reducing or
increasing family stress?
Adopt the open mind of a student and compare your current
response strategy to these
reframe the problem from "the disinterested ('bad') ex mate" to "our family-system's dysfunction."
This may reduce the ex's defensiveness and any hostility by "sharing the
and discuss the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
that is probably stressing all of you, including the ex mate. This will
prepare you to...
estimate whether the "disinterested" parent
Grown Wounded Child (GWC). If s/he is, change any scorn
(disrespect) to empathy and compassion. This does not mean you
have to accept the ex's behaviors;
If the parent is a GWC it's possible that s/he is unable to form genuine
bonds with some people - even with their own child/ren. Thus their
"indifference" may really be
psychological numbness. See
this for ideas on how to
communicate with GWCs.
assess the other parent for
over their divorce-related
losses. Incomplete grief usually indicates
inherited psychological wounds and unawareness, and a family "anti-grief"
honestly assess whether the custodial
(e.g. disrespect, blame, and lack of empathy) and
(e.g. aggression, blaming, whining, lecturing, and/or communication
blocks) are promoting
the ex's "disinterest" (avoidance);
evolve a family strategy for
loyalty conflicts and relationship
and invite all
family members - including older kids - to adopt and implement the
if part of "the ex mate problem"
involves money (e.g. inadequate financial child support),
identify and resolve the
underlying real problems.
avoid using the legal system to force the ex mate to "parent
responsibly." Using legal
force will polarize the family; increase everyone's anxiety, resentment, distrust, and
disrespect; and stress the kids. Hiring lawyers always
indicates psychological wounds and an inability to
custodial parents (including
stepparents) regularly reaffirm their family
priorities to avoid probable re/divorce.
Invite all family adults and older kids to use the
frequently to guide you all.
view and apply these tools for improving relationships: This video mentions
eight self-improvement lessons in this ad-free Web site. I've reduced that to
reflect. How do you feel about these options for adapting to an uninvolved
parent? Does anything
prevent your family adults from discussing and acting on them now? Your living and
unborn kids silently depend on all of you grownups to do so.