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The first area we need to work on is improving shalom bayis, since for the branches (our children) to grow the tree trunk must be strong. Yet, in the event of, chas v’shalom, a divorce, parents must always speak positively about one another. This entails not speaking negatively to the children about the other and teaching the children to respect both parents. A child should never feel guilty for loving and respecting his or her parent.

On a positive note, my friend has a daughter who is very happily married to a young man from a divorced home. My friend told me that it was the best possible divorce situation. Both parents remarried and had a wonderful relationship with their son, as well as an amicable relationship with each other. The couple felt like they had three loving sets of parents.

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We should all learn from this couple who, despite their divorce, was able to raise amazing children. They were able to do this by instilling in their children devotion to and love of both parents and stepparents.

I wish you hatzlachah in your difficult situation, and I appreciate the fact that you’re sharing your views with readers of The Jewish Press. Hopefully it will serve to sensitize the community to not use innocent children as pawns in messy circumstances. Instead, we need to always act lovingly towards our children and make them feel secure – in spite of the divorce.

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.