Once the stress, anger, and depression that is a normal part of the divorce process has passed, it is not unusual for adults to begin feeling guilty. The children of a divorced couple often have a hard time adjusting to the separation of their parents and their pain can affect a parent’s ability to maintain routines. In an effort to ease the emotional discomfort caused by a divorce, some parents begin letting their guilt influence their decisions. Recognizing signs of guilt-driven parenting helps you avoid falling into dangerous patterns that can negatively affect your children and their relationships with you or your ex-spouse.
Treating Parenting as a Competition
It is not unusual for parent to begin doing things to make themselves seem like the “better” parent in the eyes of their children. This form of parenting often shifts focus away from the actual child, as parents begin to fixate on each other rather than their children. One or both parent may begin bending rules such as bedtimes, television watching, curfews, and other restrictions that the other parent enforces. Treating parenting like a popularity contest can rob a child of continuity that ultimately helps them adjust to the divorce.
A guilty parent may try easing his or her feelings of inadequacy by spending large amounts of money on the children. Expensive trips, costly presents, or financing over-the-top parties are all ways a parent will attempt to compensate for the absence of one parent or for an inability to spend more time with the children. In some situations, a parent may spend excessive amounts of money that ultimately leads to financial problems. Not only does a parent run the risk of getting into money troubles, spending money on your children to compensate for feelings of guilt can make them believe that they deserve compensation for minor things or harm their perception of money.
Focus on Setting an Unrealistic Example
Though divorce does not have the same stigma that it once did, a divorced parent may still feel that the dissolution of the marriage is morally or ethically wrong. These feelings may create a compulsion to set an example for the children that is unrealistic. Holding yourself to an unnaturally high standard while becoming a stricter or more authoritarian parent may ultimately do more to hurt your children rather than help them. There is no need to make drastic changes to your personality or parenting style solely because you and your spouse are now divorced.
Talk to an Expert
Dealing with guilt over a divorce or separation is hard, especially when you and your spouse have not completely finalized the legal divorce. It is important that you talk to a family law attorney who can help you make decisions based on your legal or financial needs that are not influenced by guilt. The compassionate attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are able to help you with every stage of your divorce. Our attorneys understand how difficult it is for a parent to end a marriage without feeling guilt. Contact us today and schedule an appointment at one of our four Atlanta metro area locations so that we can discuss your needs.