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Separating the Courtroom and Parent-Child Relationship | The Rejected Parent Newsletter

This newsletter is for parents who are being rejected by their children and those who support them. I will be sending regular newsletters to give suggestions and support to parents dealing with rejection from their children on all levels. I generally support parents whose children are 18 years and under; however, some of this will apply to parents with adult children as well.

How do you separate court from your relationships with your child? It’s not easy to do. First of all, going through a divorce or custody dispute stresses parents out. They have a hard enough time coping with the process and all the changes in their lives. During this stressful time, parents generally are so focused on surviving a custody dispute that they don’t realize how much their children need their attention more than ever. 

That’s a lot to deal with all at once. I get it. Parents can only do the best they can. What can make matters worse is if they feel like their child is being taken from them. However, there are little things you can do to focus on your child, even in the middle of the most conflictual court battle. 

One way to help keep your time with your child positive is to mentally picture court or the dispute and time with your child as two separate events. Another is to think of your co-parent as being in another country (or galaxy) far, far away from you while spending time with your child. When you set all of that stressful legal stuff aside, your energy will be freed up to tune into your child's needs. 

When a child sees their parent acting angry or frustrated about their co-parent, all the child sees is an angry parent. Therefore, that child may want to avoid them. It’s normal to feel defensive or protective of yourself during court involvement. Having your assets and time with your children decided by strangers can feel threatening. It can be hard not to leak your negative emotions in front of your child. 

Here are some ways to avoid exposing your child to parental stress while protecting your relationship with them: 

  • Find a way to ground yourself by creating a daily yoga practice or meditation to take the edge off the stress. 

  • Picture hanging an imaginary bag of “stress” on a tree, fence, or post before you pick up or receive your child. Now you can symbolically protect your time with your child and join them in a happier space. 

Picture yourself going into a protective bubble with your child. When parents can separate their stressful emotions from what their child needs, here’s what can happen:

  1. Parents will be able to concentrate on what their child is saying and feeling. 

  2. Parents can be more emotionally present for their child.

  3. This in turn may help to keep children out of the middle of a parental dispute.

  4. Children will have fewer negative symptoms during a custody dispute.

  5. The conflict between children and their parents will be reduced. 

  6. Even the conflict between the parents may be reduced.

Make practicing these tips a priority. Keeping your court battle separate from your child will have positive effects on you, your child, and your future relationship with your child. 

-Cathy Himlin


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