Posts Tagged Divorce

Challenges of Co-Parenting


Challenges of Co-ParentingDivorce frequently brings the challenge of how best to raise the kids. In today’s environment, it is common for both ex-spouses to share legal and physical custody of children after divorcing.

However, few studies have looked at the process of co-parenting, so little is known about how divorced parents negotiate the co-parenting process. A new study identifies factors that influence the success of co-parenting.

Researchers from Kansas State University discovered that the type of relationship a woman has with her ex-partner is a factor in how the couple shares custody of children.

Investigators followed divorced or separated mothers who were sharing physical custody of their children with their former partners.

Mindy Markham, Ph.D., an assistant professor of family studies and human services divided the study group into three patterns of co-parenting — continuously contentious, always amicable and bad to better.

Markham also looked at additional negative and positive factors that influenced the mothers’ co-parenting relationships.

The study included 20 predominately white, well-educated women between the ages of 26 to 49 who were divorced or separated from the father of their children.

The mothers, from two Midwestern states, shared with their former partners legal and physical custody of the children, who ranged in age from 21 months to 12 years.

At the time of the study, the couples had been separated or divorced from six months to 12 years.

“The findings of this study suggest that shared physical custody relationships are dynamic and can vary greatly,” Markham said.

In current study, nine mothers (45 percent) had continuously contentious co-parenting relationships with their ex-partners from the time of separation to the present.

This stressful negative relationship fueled the mother’s perception of her ex’s parenting abilities; financial concerns, including the ex not having a job or not paying child support; control or abuse by the ex-partner; and the inability of the ex to separate marital — or personal — issues from the co-parenting relationship.

“All mothers in this type of co-parenting relationship reported differences in parenting styles and were concerned with how the ex was raising the children,” Markham said.

“Parenting practices that concerned the mothers varied greatly and included putting children in harmful situations, not bathing the children, not disciplining them and having no rules or routines.

“It was especially difficult for these mothers to share custody with ex-partners who were uninvolved during the marriage. They didn’t believe their exes were responsible parents.”

Markham said eight of the women in the continuously contentious relationships didn’t want to share custody of the children with their ex-partner, but most were told by lawyers or the court that they would have to do so.

Twenty percent of mothers reported an amicable co-parenting relationship — where they reported always getting along with their ex-partners from separation to the present.

In this form of relationship the mothers believed their ex-partners were responsible parents, money wasn’t a source of conflict and the mothers chose to share physical custody.

Seven of the mothers in the study (35 percent) had bad-to-better co-parenting relationships, where co-parenting was contentious at the time of separation, but greatly improved over time.

At the time of the study, these women’s relationships were similar to those of women with always amicable relationships. These mothers wanted to share physical custody, thought the father was a responsible parent and most said money was not a source of conflict.

Significantly, all mothers in bad-to-better relationships said they were unable to co-parent amicably with their ex-partner in the beginning because personal issues were not kept separate from parenting responsibility.

“Although ex-partners with bad-to-better relationships originally allowed their feelings about one another to negatively affect their co-parenting, at some point they realized this was not beneficial and made a conscious effort to change the relationship for the sake of their children,” Markham said.

Being able to communicate with the ex-partner is a major factor during co-parenting. In the always amicable and bad-to-better relationships, mothers were able to communicate well with ex-partners.

The ability to communicate with the ex-partner made discussing differences in parenting styles easier, reported this group of women.

However, for women in continuously contentious relationships, lack of communication was a big issue, Markham said.

These mothers limited direct in-person or phone communication with their ex, preferring alternative methods like texting or email. They also avoided seeing their ex in person when it came time to exchange children by having them picked up at day care or school.

Markham said she was surprised by the level of animosity that accompanies shared custody, at least from some mothers’ perceptions.

“Nearly half of the mothers in this study continue to have conflicted relationships with their ex-partners, and conversations with these women negate the notion that shared physical custody ensures cooperative, less conflicted relationships,” she said.

“This study can be important for helping professionals recognize that shared physical custody is not a panacea for postdivorce problems — and that in some cases it exacerbates them.”

Source: Kansas State University

Parents arguing while child covrs his ears photo by shutterstock.

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6 Steps to Finding New Love


6 Steps to Finding New Love

by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

6 Steps to Finding New Love If your relationship has ended, you might be nervous about dipping your feet in the dating pool. Or you might worry that you’ll never find love again. Maybe you’ve even assumed that you’re just unlucky when it comes to love.

Relationship and family therapist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, often hears people say they’ve lost hope. But she wants individuals to know that it’s absolutely possible to find a fulfilling partnership. For instance, in her 25-year study of 373 married couples, Orbuch found that 71 percent of divorced singles found love again.

Also, love has very little to do with luck. In fact, “there is a method to the love madness,” said Orbuch, who’s also author of the recently published book Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.

She believes in working from the inside out. Before pursuing a new relationship, Orbuch stresses the importance of working on your own beliefs, emotions, behaviors and sense of self. She helps readers do just that in Finding Love Again, along with offering tips on everything from first dates to building a strong relationship.

Below, Orbuch discussed her six steps for seeking and finding a great relationship.

 

1. Adjust your expectations.

“Forget everything you know about relationships,” Orbuch said. That’s because you might be holding onto certain relationship myths and unrealistic expectations, which can set you up for failure and frustration, she said. (Frustration also can eat away at your happiness, according to Orbuch.)

For instance, it’s unrealistic to think that your partner will automatically know what you want and need — even after many years of marriage, Orbuch said. In the beginning, people simply don’t know each other that well, while over the years, people naturally change, and so do their wants and needs. (Remember that no one is a mind reader. If you want or need something, Orbuch said, you have to ask for it.)

Another common myth is that there’s a specific amount of time you have to wait before you start dating. However, according to Orbuch, there’s no scientific evidence to substantiate a certain timeframe. “Everyone is different.” Some people are ready to date right after a relationship ends, while others need more time to heal, she said.

2. Start with a clean slate.

In her study, Orbuch found that divorced singles who didn’t feel anything for their ex were more likely to find love. “In order to find love again, you need to emotionally separate or detach from previous or past relationships,” she said.

Remaining emotionally attached to the past prevents you from being fully present — and trusting someone else — and keeps you trapped in a cycle of negativity, she said. Everyone has emotional baggage. The key is to make sure that your baggage isn’t too heavy, she said.

For instance, in the book, Orbuch includes a helpful quiz with questions such as: Do you still keep photos of your ex, compare others to them or visit their social media sites?

According to Orbuch, one way to become emotionally neutral is to release your emotions in healthy ways, such as engaging in physical activities and social events; volunteering; writing an honest letter to your ex (that you never send); and getting creative with activities such as painting, gardening and playing music. What also helps is to share your story with loved ones and seek their support, she said.

3. Shake up your routine.

Orbuch suggested making one small and simple change and committing to it for 21 days. In her study, she found that divorced singles who cut their work hours by at least one hour a day were more likely to find love. Changing your routine can open up new opportunities to meet people and even revise how you see yourself, according to Orbuch.

4. Discover the real you.

After your relationship ends, “you need to step back and re-examine you,” Orbuch said. Before you can determine if you’re compatible with someone, you need to know who you really are, she said.

Your past relationship probably shaped your personality and preferences in some way. You no doubt compromised, changed and accepted certain traits, she said.

As Orbuch writes in her book, “Singles who find a long-lasting, successful partnership have one trait in common: they put the focus on who they are and what they want, rather than worrying about what others will think.”

To find out who you are, define your key life values. What matters most to you? For instance, how important is faith, your job or your health?

Orbuch also suggested making a list of the qualities you’d like in your partner — and to be specific. For instance, as she writes in the book, by “funny,” do you mean you’d like your partner to have a dry sense of humor or tell jokes or something else entirely? Getting specific helps you reflect and consider the true qualities you’d like in a mate — and not waste your time, she writes.

5. Start dating.

Again, it’s important to be hopeful. The divorced singles in Orbuch’s study who were hopeful were much more likely to find love.

In the beginning of your relationship, you want to “disclose or share parts of yourself gradually,” Orbuch said. Don’t spill your guts right away. This might seem obvious, but many people do just that: They reveal everythingimmediately because they assume that if their date or partner doesn’t like what they hear, then it’s “Too bad,” and they’re on to the next person, she said.

But a lot of information is overwhelming for anyone, especially when it’s about topics like your ex, kids and finances, she said.

Don’t try to sell yourself, either, Orbuch said. Dating isn’t about winning someone’s approval; it’s about about finding out if you’re compatible.

6. Determine if you’re in the right relationship, and keep it strong.

When evaluating your relationship, Orbuch suggests considering the following: Do you think in terms of “we” or “I”? Do you trust each other? Do you share similar values? Do you handle conflict effectively?

To keep your relationship strong, “empty your pet peeves pail frequently,” she said. Small annoyances add up — and can damage your relationship — so talk to your partner about what bothers you.

Also, “make sure that you recognize and affirm each other frequently over time,” she said. It’s all too easy to put your relationship on the back burner when other people and tasks require your immediate attention, such as your kids, parents, jobs, health and finances, she said. But just a sweet phrase or small behavior can go a long way.

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