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After divorce: presence by both parents at a child's events

Dealing with an ex-spouse is rarely easy. Even after a property settlement is in place and any necessary child custody decisions have been made, the emotions of divorce can still be so raw that interacting with an ex can't help but hurt.

There are, however, certainly couples who have moved past enough of the anger and resentment to be able to collaborate effectively on arrangements for attending events that involve their children. 

In Illinois and across the nation, family therapists encourage couples to do this. Such collaboration is important for all different types of couples.

For example, the iconic pop singer Madonna and her ex-husband, movie director Guy Ritchie, both attended their son's bar mitzvah last weekend. Their divorce in 2008 had been a bitter one. But they were able to move forward sufficiently to both be in attendance at their son's milestone event.

In addition to milestone events, many divorced couples also share in more prosaic ones on an ongoing basis. Youth sports games and school events such as concerts are good examples of this.

It means a lot to kids when parents come to those games and events. And it is of course ideal if both parents, not only one, can be there, regardless of the precise child custody arrangements.

Of course, this is true for all children, not only children of divorced parents. But in some ways parental presence is particularly important for children whose parents have been divorced.

For a child whose parents have been divorced, the presence of both parents at a game or event shows the child that both parents still value the children. And it also shows the child an example of how adults can overcome negative emotions and cooperate toward a common goal.

Source: The New York Times, "Madonna and Guy Ritchie Model a 'Good Divorce,' Hope Reeves, July 15, 2013

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