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Don’t let divorce guilt influence your parenting

It is common to experience a wide range of emotions when going through the process of ending a marriage.

Guilt is one of the most pervasive emotions that parents deal with when they divorce, but they must be careful not to let guilt, or their response to it, determine how they approach parenting their children.

Feeling guilty in divorce is not unusual

Divorce guilt is a very real – and common – issue that individuals face after getting a divorce. This guilt often stems from:

  1. The grief or self-blame of ending a relationship
  2. The doubt of whether divorce was the right decision
  3. The stress of putting children through divorce

While guilt might be a common response to divorce, parents must take care not to let the feeling get out of control. If left unchecked, guilt can often start to impact many aspects of one’s life, including how they parent after the divorce.

How can guilt undermine parenting?

Allowing guilt to be a driving influence behind parenting styles after divorce can be a dangerous thing. Generally, it can result in two opposite extremes in parenting.

Parents might be:

  • Too lenient: The guilt parents feel might lead them to do anything to make their child happy, and make things up to them somehow. Therefore, they might not enforce any rules and act as the fun parent to regain the child’s affections. According to Our Family Wizard, parents in these situations base their parenting and responses entirely on their own emotions and those of their child.
  • Too strict: On the other hand, guilt can also drive parents to overcompensate. They might try to be the best possible parent by taking on all parental obligations, even if that involves infringing on the other parent’s parenting time and responsibilities, or being too strict. Usually, this is all in an effort to return the family to some form of normalcy immediately after the divorce.

Neither of these options is in the best interests of the children – or the parents, for that matter.

It is important for Illinois parents to address the stress and complex emotions divorce creates so that they do not let these feelings control them, their life post-divorce or their parenting strategies.