On Episode 179 of THE Amicable Divorce Expert podcast we have mediator Despina Mavridou, author of Mum, Dad, Can You Hear Me? And a child of divorce, as our guest to discuss the importance of communication between parents, how a lack of communication leads to growing apart and eventually divorce, and how divorce affects children and leads to Parental Alienation.
Highlights from the Interview:
I was trying to be the adult when I was 10. I saw my mother crying and tried to help her. I also tried to be the mediator between my parents, for instance, and ask my father for money, for my mother, because my mother didn’t want to.
There were emotions I tried to suppress until therapy in my adult life. I suppressed sadness, anger, and the alienation I experienced with my father.
My parents were using me as a weapon to hurt each other. They didn’t mean to, but they were because they never dealt with the issues that led to their divorce and therefore couldn’t talk to each other without arguing.
What should parents do to prepare for a divorce if there are minor children? Therapy. Nobody can deal with divorce alone. Everyone going through divorce needs help beyond attorneys. They need therapists, coaches, anyone who can help parents, especially fathers, to deal with the reasons for the divorce. Fathers feel a lot of shame and blame that they don’t express.
My mother cried a lot. I wanted to help her stop crying. I distanced myself from my father because I thought this would protect my mother from her sadness and anger. I thought that by siding with my mother it would make the whole divorce better for me, my sister, and my mother.
My sister and I felt like we were in a battle between our parents, even to explain to mom what we did with our dad was uncomfortable. In order to make my mother happy, we felt we had to badmouth our dad.
If parents don’t know themselves well, lived a life that was fulfilling leading up to marriage and starting a family, they may not grow together as a family.
My parents never learned how to communicate, how to put themselves first, and blamed each other for not being happy.
My dad had an outside relationship because my mom spent more time working and raising my sister and I than she spent with my father, and they didn’t grow as a couple. My mother made more money than my dad. That was a problem for my dad’s pride.
Listening and communicating are essential in developing a good relationship as parents and as a married couple.
Kids don’t want to be part of their parents’ arguments: Different rules in both houses; Don’t want to talk about money; Don’t want to negotiate the co-parenting schedule.
Parental alienation was the only answer in order to stop being the messenger between my parents. When I said to my mother that I would stop seeing my father in order to make her happy, my mother said this wasn’t right. Although my mother spoke badly about my father, she also said that I should still see my father. I was very confused about this.
I needed my mother’s approval, and wanted to be a good girl, so I thought that if I ignored my father I would please my mother.
30 years later, my mother is in a new relationship but still expresses anger towards my father. The issues from the divorce linger because my mother never got help to work on those issues, nor did my father. My parents still don’t talk.
Biography of Despina Mavridou
My name is Despina Mavridou. I am an author, a mediator and a lawyer in Greece. I have experienced the negative effects of divorce due to my parent’s separation when I was 10 years old. I was in the middle of their fights for many years, even after the judgement of divorce was issued by the Court, trying to find a balance. Thus, when I was approximately 17 years old I took the decision that I don’t want to see my dad anymore and this cost me my relationship with him for more than 20 years. We have reunited recently.
As an adult I have worked as a lawyer for many years but in the last four years I have discovered mediation and a passion for writing. For this reason, I have decided to leave my job as a lawyer and concentrate mostly on my passion. My first published book is titled Mum, Dad, Can You Hear Me? This is because I was always feeling inside me that I wanted to share certain things with my parents so as to make them understand how I was feeling about the divorce. Through family mediations I understood how difficult it is for parents to get in their kid’s shoes. For this reason, I wanted to give to the book Mum, Dad Can You Hear Me? a dual purpose. On one hand I want to help children understand that the divorce is not the end of the world and that they can have both parents in their lives. On the other hand, I want to help parents see the divorce through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl so as to better understand the thoughts, needs and feelings of the kids and how important it is for them to have both parents in their lives.
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