While coParenting, it is wise to keep an eye on if you have a closeness problem with your child. Meaning, you are too far away or too close.

The “faraway” parent is one who is not very interested in being a parent. The “too close” parent is one who is more interested in children as friends than in children who must be parented. Both of these parent behaviors are bumps in the road because they get in the way of the children’s healthy growth.

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Parents who are not very interested in being a parent may be wrapped up in their own interests. Raising children takes time and effort. They may be so involved in a new romantic relationship that they are not paying attention to the parenting plan. Or they may take shortcuts with the plan: “I didn’t take Parker to the tutor today. I just let him read his geography book. That’s enough for him.”

Some parents go so far as lying about what was or wasn’t done. These parents may even ask the children to lie for them. “Tell dad I took you to the tutor today, Parker. I’ll buy you the new game you’ve been wanting.”

If you hire a Parenting Coordinator, they work with the faraway parent to set common interests and then to verify that the parenting plan is being followed. The Parenting Coordinator is not a judge but can check “evidence” to confirm that the parenting plan is being followed. It would seem that parents who are very close to their children are good parents. “Mom is my best friend,” eight-year-old Pamela says. “She lets me stay up late to watch TV with her in her bed. We eat popcorn together. We don’t mind that dad isn’t home anymore.” While Pamela may think having a mother for a best friend is a good thing, it is not healthy for Pamela or for her mother. Children need a parent to set rules and boundaries.

Parents can become friends with their children after they are grown and living outside the home. The stress of a divorce may leave a parent longing for a friend to confide in. After a divorce, the extra time needed to juggle work, childcare, housework, paying bills, and all the other needs of daily life often leave little time for friendship.

It is tempting to use your children in this role, especially if the child is a teenager. “Jessica is sixteen. She’s old enough for me to talk to about how I feel.” The problem is, Jessica is not old enough to have her mother switch places with her. Jessica needs to concentrate on being a teenager—not an easy thing to do. She needs a parent who will be a parent, setting limits and giving information about her changing body and emotional relationships. She needs to be “Too Close” to be like Goldilocks… just right.


About Debra Carter

Dr. Carter is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, and a Parent Coordinator.

She is Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Director of the National Cooperative Parenting Center (NCPC) offering a wide spectrum of services to the Mental Health and Legal Communities as well as to families and children who are struggling with divorce-related issues. She is a frequent expert to the court, and an international speaker, lecturer, and trainer on parenting in divorce. She is a consultant to the US Department of State in matters of international child custody.

Dr. Carter is the leader in the development of standardized Parental Responsibility Guidelines emphasizing the needs of children in divorce, which have been adopted and endorsed by the court. She has received numerous awards including the prestigious “John E. Van Duzer Distinguished Service Award” from the International Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Her work can be found through Unhooked Books: https://www.unhookedmedia.com/#home