Every 15 seconds in the United States a divorce is petitioned from the Courts. This is usually a one-time event. However, just because the divorce is finalized does not mean that many children are not greatly impacted by their parent’s mental health.
One of the questions that has arisen a lot lately is summed up in this email I received. I thought it would be helpful to respond publicly, as all parties gave permission to do so. The email stated: “My ex-spouse is “off the rails” and is unable to hold it together for our children. How much access should he/she have to our children?”
This question usually implies unsafe behaviors such as a mental health diagnosis that is not properly being medicated, and/or alcohol/drug abuse. In other words, the co-parent is not operating in their right mind or in an unsafe manner with your children.
It is imperative that you keep your child safe, both physically and mentally. A parent’s job is three-fold: to provide for your children, to protect your children, and to help get them to their next developmental stage.
I would suggest that you get additional team players on board, so the other parent can get back on the right path, and show up strong and safe for your mutual children. You’re probably wondering, “who is on my team?”
The team I am speaking about is the co-parent’s trusted support system. Do they have a counselor or psychiatrist they are seeing? If not, it would be wonderful to help this co-parent get motivated to seek the help that would help them show up wonderfully and strong.
Another great support person is a family member, such as the child’s grandparent. Sometimes, a more neutral third-party like a grandparent can help this person overcome their difficulties.
It is imperative that you keep your child safe, especially physically. The calls I have received have been from parents, where the other parent is threatening to harm the children or the other spouse, or where a parent doesn’t get out of bed during the child’s visitation time due to the parent’s drug or alcohol abuse. It is when a parent cannot show up in a parenting role due to this significant issue.
Our team at Wise Choice Family & Educational Solutions is passionately committed to helping families and individuals go beyond surviving to being free to enjoy life and realize their potential. We're here to help you schedule an appointment today.
- Laura Rosal, MA Qualified Mental Health Professional & Mediator