Bonding & Re-Bonding with Children During Divorce
Key Points
  • Children may feel at odds with parents during a divorce. Trying to keep the bond strong between each parent is difficult, co-parenting without involving the children in any conflict will help keep this bond strong.
  • Rebonding with your child in this new life, as a single parent now, means new experiences and new connections. Positive co-parenting helps parents foster this rebonding without animosity.
  • Spouses who support each other in the relationship each has with the child or children create a positive environment for the child or children to feel safe and secure. The well-being of the child is preserved where conflicts are at a minimum.

Parenting after divorce involves re-bonding with your child. Re-bonding or reconnecting may be considered a new concept, but it has happened throughout time. The easiest and more clear way to see this is to notice how as an adult you re-bond or reconnect with your nieces and nephews when you see each other after a long period apart, or recall how you felt when your favorite relatives or teachers bonded with you as a child. These recollections can encourage you to make re-bonding happen as easily as possible, which is a necessary part of adjusting to the new parenting situation that divorce brings.

Co-parenting is the concept that allows both parents to share ideas in helping children adapt to bonding and re-bonding during divorce. Bonding is the experience of connecting with your child. When your child is born, bonding happens. Re-bonding is what takes place between you and your child each time you see one another following a separation. It is important for you as parents to remember that both you and your children are reconnecting to one another. Your children’s perspective is now based on what they have experienced during that separation. You, on the other hand, may only be recalling what your relationship was before the separation. You will want to pick up where you left off with the child. Accepting and allowing a period of adjustment is necessary for both of you.

For families who support one another with the re-bonding/bonding process, everyone wins because the parents continue to communicate about the children’s well-being and the children continue to feel the loyalty and security from their parents. Understanding that children need to connect with both of you as their parents, no matter how you feel about one another, is the one of the biggest challenges of divorce. It is difficult enough for children to connect with each parent when moving back and forth even if there is no animosity between you. For the children who have to experience bitterness, hatred and tension, the confusion can be unbearable.

Conflicts of loyalty and self-doubt surface at every age, including in adult children whose parents maintained a hostility throughout their divorce. This type of situation affects your children’s ability to bond with you because they saw your attitudes toward your ex-spouse. This has been the root of many problems between parents and children. If it was impossible for you to resolve the issues in your divorce and your behavior has affected your children’s ability to bond with you or your ability to bond with them, talk to them about it. It is not always easy to talk with children about these situations, but with time, relationships can resolve.

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Suggested Reading
Creating a Successful Parenting Plan Creating a Successful Parenting Plan
This extraordinary book and computer disk offers separating or divorcing parents a sure-fire way to create a workable, practical parenting plan/agreement that is in the best interest of their children.

Author: Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.

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