All feelings can be contagious. I have had cases with one parent who is overwhelmingly distressed by sadness about the divorce – even a year after the parents have separated.

Sometimes the sad parent is the mother and sometimes the father. They aren’t openly angry. They’re tearful – constantly tearful. When I see this, I can generally predict that sooner or later one parent will say that the children or oldest child no longer wants to spend time with the other parent. These are parents who want the children to visit, but feel helpless to make it happen.

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One woman described her parents’ divorce several decades earlier. She said that her father was devastated and depressed. When she would spend weekends with him, she absorbed his sadness and felt really distressed. Then, when she went back to her mother’s house, where she primarily resided, she remembers being very angry with her mother about how her dad felt. “I told her it was all her fault!” She doesn’t remember much about those days, but decades after their divorce she still remembers how her father was sad and depressed.

Remember that emotions are contagious. Make your best efforts not to expose your child to your intense anger, fear, hurt, sadness and other negative emotions about the other parent – even about an HCP parent. When you do (because no one’s perfect), make positive comments about the other parent to keep things balanced. Avoid believing that feelings are decisions. If your child is anxious, remind him or her that feelings are not harmful and reduce with time. This is part of resilience.

Excerpt from Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High-Conflict Divorce. By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. Published by HCI Press


About Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. He developed the "High Conflict Personality" theory (HCP Theory) and has become an international expert on managing disputes involving high conflict personalities and personality disorders. He provides training on this subject to lawyers, judges, mediators, managers, human resource professionals, businesspersons, healthcare administrators, college administrators, homeowners’ association managers, ombudspersons, law enforcement, therapists and others. He has been a speaker and trainer in over 25 states, several provinces in Canada, Australia, France and Sweden.

As an attorney, Bill is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California and the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego. Prior to becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Licensed Clinical Social worker with twelve years’ experience providing therapy to children, adults, couples and families in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics. He has taught Negotiation and Mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law for six years and he is on the part-time faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and the National Judicial College.

He is the author of numerous articles and several books.

Areas of Expertise: Mediation, Family Law, Workplace, Judicial Officers, Court Systems, Governmental Entities, Mental Health Professionals, New Ways for Families.

To view his book, “BIFF: Quick Responses to High-Conflict People,” visit this link:

To view his book, “Don’t Alienate the Kids!” Visit this site: