Drive through parenting

The impact of divorce on children is a recurring concern for separated parents.

Amidst all the responsibilities, ongoing and new, separating parents cannot ignore what their divorce/separation is doing to their children.

For parents with young children, it’s raising little ones without the benefit of the two parents in one home and juggling a load of responsibilities between managing being that much needed parent in the formative years together with the time needed to go to work to meet the financial concerns of a new single parent headed home.

For parents with older children, it’s often feeling like they are loosing touch with their children as their needs for contact can be more easily met outside of the home. This becomes the next concern if the children are hurt and angry as they will often then be attracted to a less than desirable crowd. Parents then try to regain a sense of control by forcing a discipline onto their children which was not necessarily there in the beginning, causing them to rebel and create further chaos in the parent/child relationship.

Although we cannot avoid a two home scenario when parents decide to separate, in order to avoid much trauma for the children, young and older alike, is to acknowledge that the children don’t have an option when it comes to their parents’ divorce. They understandably feel worried and they are stuck with how their parents is going to handle the transition.

First understand that “in the best of the children” is not waiting to have a parenting plan drawn.

In the best interest of the children is to allow them as little disruption as possible, and mostly do not become what I call a “Drive Through” parent. A “Drive Through” parent is a parent who, due to the conflict experienced during or post divorce, becomes a parent who will only make appearances at birthdays or certain designated events, whether school related or not. This parent may become so because s/he feels forced to do so by the other parent/circumstances or because s/he is not taking as much interest in their parental role and responsibilities.

If there is anything you wish to do for your children in order to minimise the impact of your separation on your kids, know that your children need, first and foremost, both their parents in their lives. Blaming the divorce for their one parent to be more absent is no excuse, because you, the adults, decide the terms of your divorce. All you have to do is make sure that a true and honest consideration is being put forward for your children’s well being.

So if you catch yourself being a “Drive Through” parent, make sure you adjust your involvement and avoid making your children feel like they are just a task in your day and instead be your destination.

~ Nadia Thonnard