Separation, Divorce, and Co-parenting

Separation and Divorce

​For many people, when they commit to marrying their partner, they have every intention of staying together forever. They know they will encounter tough times but are committed to figuring things out. They have thoughts and visions of the future, and how things will look as their lives progress. They imagine achieving their personal goals alongside their partner. They imagine raising children (or not) and experiencing life with a person whom they feel they understand and have a genuine affinity for. They imagine growing older and even more connected with their spouse as children grow, work evolves, friends come and go, and hobbies wax and wane. Many people never imagined when they are confronted with divorce that they could find themselves in such a dark and confusing place, where things have gone so off-course. When you are confronted with divorce, you are confronted not only with the loss of your partner, but the loss of your visions for the future.

​During a divorce or separation, the variety and intensity of emotion can be overwhelming. One minute you find yourself feeling so deeply sad and full of remorse, and the next moment you are full of rage and have difficulty containing your anger. You are bombarded with an endless stream of thoughts… How did I get here? Where did things go wrong? What if this or that had (or hadn’t) happened? What about the kids? How will they handle this? Why is this happening? How will I get through this? Where do I go from here? This is all my fault. No, wait! This is all their fault!

​Divorce and separation can be disorienting. It can be helpful for individuals to have an emotionally safe place to sort through all of the overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with a therapist who is trained to offer comfort and perspective. I see my role with those struggling with divorce or separation as someone who can assist in processing the emotion, offer strategies on how to care for yourself through this painful time, and facilitate the creation of a narrative that not only addresses the past but allows you to envision a new, ideal future.

Co-parenting

​Divorce and separation can be especially hard when you share children. While most parents are aware that the physical and emotional well-being of their children is and should remain their number one priority, it can be difficult to know the best way to protect your children, parents may not agree on the best ways to protect their children, and it can be difficult to keep the children separate from conflict. Depending upon the developmental level of the child, different strategies are necessary for helping them cope with this transition.

​I work with parents together and individually on co-parenting strategies. These strategies are customized to every family as no family is the same or is experiencing this transition under the same circumstances. Regardless of the concrete co-parenting strategies discussed for your family, you can expect an emphasis on curbing reactivity from adults, and instead learn to respond or lead from a part (please see ‘My Approach’ for more information on “parts work”) that is focused on the best interests of your children.

Re-structuring the Family

​I am an advocate for a “queering of the family,” or assisting my clients in creating a family form that works for every member, even if that form exists outside of the norm.

​There is no denying that families in our culture are held up to an idealized norm that is heterosexual, nuclear, and “intact.” A lot of the literature you will find on divorce, co-parenting, and blended families assume that anything outside of this norm is inferior at best, and downright damaging at worst. I disagree with this view. I believe that families can exist in all different shapes, sizes, and orientations and not only be functional, but can offer children and other family members opportunities for unique personal growth, pride, self-confidence, and security.

​What works for one family will not necessarily work for another. And that’s okay! What works for you and your family? What is your vision for the future now that you and your original partner are no longer together? Ex partners and children exist along many continuums including amicability, cooperation, values, physical proximity/involvement and emotional proximity/involvement to name a few. Where do you and your ex land on these continuums? What would you like your family to look like, and why? Is it possible to move your family towards your goals? If not, what stories are you telling yourself and your children about that? It’s possible to create a new family structure for yourself and your children that will nurture every member, even if that structure looks different from the norm. You are not powerless over the future of your family even when you have little control. When it comes to restructuring your family, you can be creative. I welcome the opportunity to nurture your creativity.

 

Contact Today



4531 SE Belmont Suite 203
Portland, OR 97215

afettmanfamilytherapy@gmail.com
(971) 804-0148

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