In our last blog, we talked about the dangers of Maladaptive Gatekeeping during separation and divorce. To recap, Maladaptive Gatekeeping is a form of emotional child abuse that can be subtle or overt where one parent belittles or vilifies the other parent to the child. Its harmful effects on children, including depression, substance abuse, and a lack of trust in others, are well documented in many credible psychological studies.
And as Stephen explained in last month’s blog, parents who use this sabotaging behavior can also face serious legal consequences, as the Arkansas courts look harshly on Maladaptive Gatekeeping. Below, we provide some ways divorcing parents can stay vigilant in keeping their children’s relationships with both parents strong and healthy.
- Avoid negative language. Do not use language such as “I really miss you,” instead of focusing on the upbeat with language like, “I can’t wait to see you next!” Or instead of being woeful about missing an important moment in your child’s life like a special game, talk instead about how exciting and positive it must have been for the child.
- Manage your emotions. Actions speak louder than words. Venting around your kids is not acceptable.
- Stick to the schedule. Do not show up late for visitation as this can be portrayed as a lack of interest/commitment.
- Follow the rules when it comes to court orders and agreements. Do not give your ex anything to use against you.
The research is clear when it comes to Maladaptive Gatekeeping: Children of divorce must be spared their parents’ rage and disappointment. In order to grow up as happy and healthy as possible, they must be allowed to maintain healthy, loving relationships with both parents, free of those parents’ conflicts with one another.