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Ask the Therapist: Co-Parenting After Divorce

Each month at our divorce workshop, a therapist discusses the emotional side of divorce. Topics include helping children cope and finding your self-esteem again. One of our presenters, Tina Lepage, shares these two divorce FAQs.

Q: How do I help my kids cope emotionally with the divorce?
A: Allow them to express their feelings and let them know it’s OK to feel angry, hurt, sad, and there are healthy ways to cope with their emotions. For example, it’s OK to feel angry, but it’s not OK to hit, scream, throw things, etc. In addition to telling them you love them, spend time one-on-one with each child to show them you are available to them. Use social supports to show your kids that there are other people in their lives who support and care about them. Finally, work as best you can on co-parenting.

Photo by Spirit Fire.
Photo by Spirit Fire.

Q: After a difficult separation, what is the first step in co-parenting?
A: The first and most important step in becoming productive and harmonious co-parents is disengaging from your ex emotionally. This can be exceedingly difficult; there can generally be a lot of stored pain, anger, hurt, and even affection. Further, there can be unresolved marital conflict, resentment, a desire for answers, or a desire to care-take the other’s feelings. All these things compel us to stay emotionally engaged as we search for the proper balance of closure and crafting a new life. Additionally, one’s spouse has typically been their main source of emotional support throughout much of their adult life, and it can be habitual to look to an ex for support. However, these conflicted roles make a separation more complex and more challenging, and it is best to avoid these roles as much as possible. Items that had been couples’ tasks (resolving anger, processing hurt, seeking and providing mutual support) now become an individual’s tasks. Disengaging emotionally means from the role of spouse, not from the role of co-parent. Work to create a new connection based on your roles as parents.

This information provided by Lepage Associates, Tina Lepage, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, CEO.

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  1. Hello,

    I need a therapist. Is there someone who can send me a list of those who accept Medicare Supplemental Insurance. United Health Care/Aetna.

    I’m 66, my husband of 31 years left me here in NC without a word. Just took his clothes and left me in a mess. He had been having an affair for 4 years – he knew, I knew all about it. I can’t cope alone. I have no family and due to severe nerve deafness I don’t make friends easily. The phone is my nemesis. Please help me, I’m in an abyss and can not climb out alone.

    Rosemary Armesto
    301 Edgecroft Way
    Fuquay Varina, NC 27526

    1. Rosemary,
      I’m sorry to hear about your difficult times. I wanted to let you know of a couple of resources so you don’t have to feel like you’re climbing out o the abyss alone. If you’d like to meet with a therapist face-to-face, you might try Pfeiffer Institute Reach (I’m the clinic director). It’s a low-cost counseling center in Morrisville. Although we don’t take insurance, our session fees are low and we have a sliding scale. You can reach the clinic at pfeiffer.reach@pfeiffer.edu. Check out the website at http://www.pfeiffer.edu/reach.
      Another option is Silver Linings. They will meet with you in your home, and they take Medicare. You can find out more about them at http://www.silverliningsnc.com.
      Hang in there,
      Laura Bryan

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