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August 2007 - Mom and Dad Together Again

Most children of divorce secretly (or not so secretly) hope their parents will get back together. Having the family reunited and everything as it used to be may seem like a perfect resolution to many children, but in fact reunifications can be difficult for everyone involved. About 10% of all married couples have separated and reconciled, according to the latest statistics available.

Not Smooth Sailing

If you and your ex are thinking about getting back together, are seeing each other, or have moved back in with each other, it may be a difficult adjustment for the children, even if this is the fulfillment of their wishes. Couples who reconcile often have a lot of issues to work out. This may mean going to counseling together, or simply spending months working through their problems. Reconciliation can sometimes involve a lot of starts and stops Ė youíre together today but tomorrow you think itís a bad idea, but then two weeks later you spend the night together, and so on. The bumps in the road that you experience may feel like giant craters to your children because they are extremely emotionally invested in whether you reconcile or not.

Take It Slowly

The best thing you and your ex can do is take things slowly. Donít move back in together immediately. Take your time to consider if this reconciliation will work and if it is what you really want. Getting back together and then splitting again can be very painful for your children. Donít do it until you are sure.

Donít assume that everything will be peachy this time. The problems you had before have not disappeared, even if you are both on your best behavior. You need to find solutions or work-arounds for the problems that brought your relationship to an end the first time. This may mean confronting things together and actively trying to find compromises and solutions that will allow you to live together happily.

Helping Your Children through It

If you and your ex start to see each other again, try very hard not to get your childrenís hopes up. Donít tell them youíre getting back together until it is a done deal. Instead, let them know that their parents will always communicate and try to be friendly with each other. Stress that you can be friends after getting divorce and emphasize that that is what you are doing. While it is fine for you to hope things will work, allowing your children to think you will and then crushing their hopes is too dangerous a game.

Once you make the firm decision to reunite, talk with your children about it. Make it clear that you have decided to try this again and that there are no guarantees you will be together forever. This can be hard for children to understand, but you owe it to them not to make promises that you donít know if you can keep.

Kids Who React Negatively

There are some children who react negatively to the idea of their parents getting back together. Teenagers often are very careful to have their defenses up because they donít want to get hurt again, and thus they may act as if they arenít happy about the reconciliation. If the teen has a rocky relationship with one parent (often the parent he or she sees as being at fault for the divorce or break up), the teen may not be very welcoming to that parent. In situations like these, you can insist on respect, but you cannot insist that your child embrace the reunification whole-heartedly. All you can do is give it time and encourage your child to be tolerant and patient. Be honest about the fact that you are all human, and each of us does the best he or she can.