Parents must take care to avoid bleeding their own personal pain and hurt onto their children when separating. In many cases, one partner is leaving and has ‘left’ the relationship emotionally months or even years previously. This leaves the other partner bewildered and angry. It is torture to be going through your own grieving period and then to have to look at a child who wonders why the other parent left. This is where true parenting comes into play. A parent’s role is to set aside their own feelings, albeit briefly, and address the issue as neutrally as possible.
Although evaluators and judicial officers truly understand that there is a natural inclination to lash out and to tell children exactly why (in that parent’s view) the other party left, it is fundamentally bad for children. I have several handouts I give to clients that address this issue. However, another good resource is a Minneapolis-based therapist who has a set of free tools on her website, //www.betsysansby.com/pages/freetools.php. I am especially fond of the STOP strategy.