Top 3 Reasons You Need to Stay Involved in Your Children’s Lives After Divorce
Children are often viewed as the “innocent casualties” of a divorce. When a couple who has children decides to divorce, children may be intentionally or unintentionally put into the midst of the dispute. In some cases:
- Children have been told to “choose sides” or choose the parent they love more. This is a terribly harmful choice to impose on a child and can cause the child to resent the parent who put him or her into this situation.
- Children are told they will never see the other parent again. Children are especially devastated when they believe one parent is abandoning them. The children may grow up believing that there was something “wrong” with them as children to make their parent not want them. This can lead to lifelong psychological scars that are difficult – if not impossible – to resolve.
- Children have been unwilling witnesses to fights and arguments between their parents. Even if children are told to “go to their rooms” so that their parents can fight, children are often able to know when their parents are fighting one another. Children who witness their parents fight grow up to believe that home is a frightening and unsafe space. They may even grow up and duplicate the behavior they observed in their parents. Here is a link to an article about 10 ways to be involved in your child’s life after divorce.
It can be easy for a parent who loses a custody dispute to decide simply to “give up” on his or her children, relinquish his or her parental rights, and walk away. Here’re three reasons why this is not a good idea for you or your children:
- Your children need you so that they can grow, develop, and mature into healthy adults. You should want to remain involved in your children’s lives for no other reason than your children will suffer psychological harm if you choose to remain disinterested and unattached. Your children will not do as well in school and may not have as bright of prospects for a successful future. Moreover, your children will likely struggle with feelings of inadequacy and fears of abandonment. Your children may form unhealthy relationships or remain in harmful relationships because they crave acceptance and fear someone abandoning them.
- You will grow and develop as a person, too. Children force parents to consider another being when making decisions. Parents learn to be patient and gentle, forgiving and understanding. As any parent can attest, parenting is a difficult but extremely rewarding pursuit. By choosing to abandon your children, you are abandoning an opportunity to become a better person.
- You may not be able to walk away from your parental obligations. A court considering a request by a parent to sever that parent’s parental rights will want to know the reason for the request. This is because just as you have a right to develop a relationship with your child, your child has a right to develop a relationship with you. Therefore, the court will usually approve only those requests for the voluntary termination of parental rights which are premised on “good cause.” Not wanting to pay child support or not wanting to have contact with the other parent are not sufficient reasons for a court to grant your motion to terminate your parental rights. Even if you do not ask for your rights to be terminated but instead simply refuse to appear and parent your child, you are still responsible for supporting the child.
In most every case, it is a far better (and more commendable) decision to continue being involved in your child’s life than to remove yourself from your child’s life.