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Does your divorce mean you divorced your kids?

Nothing confuses children more than when their parents divorce and the non-custodial parent bows out of the children's lives.

Kids internalize their parents' actions and tend to believe that the parent divorced them as well. They perceive themselves as the reason behind the schism in their family unit. Otherwise, why wouldn't Mom or Dad want to continue having a relationship with them?

The reasons for the parent backing off can range from a desire to hurt their former spouse by inflicting pain on the children to finding the altered family circumstances too painful to cope with. Some may resent forking over monthly support payments or, in the case of older children, be angry with their choice to live with the other parent.

Regardless of a parent's unresolved anger or grief issues, he or she should never intentionally isolate him- or herself from the children's lives. The emotional and psychological damage to the children is far too high a price to pay.

Parents who make the decision to alienate their children when they are young often want to reconnect at a future point when the hard task of child-rearing is over. They may then reach out to adult children or even grandchildren, only to find themselves the one being shunned.

If you find yourself caught up in a cycle of resentment, guilt or sadness over your divorce and custodial responsibilities, consider reaching out for professional help. Seeking short-term counseling can be beneficial in helping you to work through the issues that present a barrier to an ongoing, loving relationship with your children.

Your family law attorney is one source to turn to when seeking referrals for individual, family or child counseling services.

Source: Families Online Magazine, "Divorcing The Kids," Wayne L. Misner, accessed July 01, 2015

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