Kelly Sikkema | Nashville Christian Family Magazine

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we often focus on romantic love between adults or married couples who express their ongoing commitment to one another. However, there are other “dynamics” to celebrate when it comes to loving relationships between people. Today I am thinking of the love between a child and their parent.

It is very important for children to love and enjoy their parents, even if (especially when) there has been a divorce. There is a biological and emotional connection between mothers and children as well as fathers and children and BOTH are important to help children have a full life. We often show sympathy for a child if they lose a parent to death; we quickly assess what is missing and how much that will be a concern for the child. What we don’t always recognize is when a child loses contact with a parent because of divorce or an angry parent who alienates the child from their “other parent” to try and eliminate or destroy the relationship. Sadly, this happens everyday in so many heartbreaking ways.

Adults get divorced for many reasons and sometimes the pain and hurt lingers for years, making it difficult for the adults to get along; however, for all that goes poorly between the parents, kids desire to enjoy their parents and continue to love them both.

The research* shows us that there are five “coparent categories” that exist after divorce, and each has a unique and direct impact on the shared children.

Perfect Pals: These divorced coparents continue to communicate and get along well, even though divorced. (The kids are often confused on why their parents got divorced since they are all together so often.)

Cooperative Colleagues: These divorced coparents are like business partners in that they are consistent with their communication, and it is only about the children. Their interactions are mostly respectful and mature. (These kids experience emotional freedom to love each parent and enjoy their two families.)

Angry Associates: These parents argue about everything, all the time. They argue about backpacks, water bottles, lunch boxes and often are outwardly argumentative at school, ballgames and the childrens’ events. (Kids with these type coparents live in high stress and experience high anxiety due to their parents active anger.)

Fiery Foes: These parents don’t communicate well and often use the children as their “messenger” instead of communicating with each other directly. (These kids end up “parentified” and live with emotional PTSD because of the pressure they experience between their mom and dad.)

Dissolved Duos: This category is known for when there is only one parent and the other parent has moved away, walked away or is pushed out of the child’s life. (The child lives with a hole in their soul the size of the missing parent.)

The healthiest goal for kids is to have “Cooperative Colleagues” who work together for the child’s best interest and allow the kids to grow up loving everyone in their two-part family. This Valentine’s Day, find a single parent who is recently divorced and share this info with them so they can have the critical insight of what is best for their kids!

*Ahrons, C. (1994). The Good Divorce. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publisher
Tammy Daughtry, Founder CoParenting International and coparent strategist of over 20 years.

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