(c) Judy Helm Wright aka “Auntie Artichoke” (Expert Parent Educator)
Even when adults can see that there is no future with a current partner, they still must consider the effect divorce or separation will have on their children. Once an egg and sperm are united and a child is born into a family, the child’s welfare must come first in all decisions.
With divorce hovering at 50% of marriages, and that does not take into consideration all the live-in situations, there are bound to be difficult decisions that the adults must make to keep the children safe, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Divorce or Separation Can Be Stressful, Sad & Confusing
No matter how old the children or the parents are, there is bound to be stressful and uncertain moments. Your job is to make the effects of the split less painful and to attend to the child’s needs with a reassuring attitude.
You, as an adult, need to offer a listening ear and try to keep the daily schedule as unchanged as possible in order to keep the tension and stress levels down. Children need to know that they are safe and the situation is as stable as possible in the circumstances.
Transitions of any kind can be stressful, but if you can maintain a working relationship with your ex your children will know that they can count on you for safety and care. In my work with families, I have found there are some definite do’s and don’ts that will increase a smoother transition.
7 Fatal Mistakes Of Divorced Or Separated Parents
1. Tell them the truth according to what they need to know. Even if you are furious that your ex-
husband has cheated, the children need to know that you are both taking some time to re-group but they don’t need the details. Long winded explanations only confuse them. They need to know they are safe and it was nothing they did.
2. Fighting and name calling in front of the kids. The children are frightened when you fight about them; it makes them feel that they are somehow responsible for the arguments and disharmony. Try to speak respectfully of everyone involved and try to maintain a working relationship rather than allow conflict to take over. Avoid blaming, shaming or finding fault. The more positive you can remain, the calmer the child will be.
3. Understand what the impact of this is on your child. No matter how old or young the child is, there will be deep emotional pain and hurt. Do tell kids about changes in their living arrangements, school, or activities, but don’t overwhelm them with the details. Or, even worse is I have seen parents trying to force the children to make major decisions that they were emotionally unable to make. You are the adult.
4. Absent Parent, left behind child. Be a present parent. When you are with your child, be there emotionally, physically and spiritually. Even when you have a great deal on your mind and major decisions that need to be made, when you are spending time with your child, really pay attention to what is going on with him. You will want to go to www.articlesbyjudy.com to read an article about this very subject and how the child is affected by absent parents.
5. What does your child need—anger is unmet needs. Your kids may express their anger, rage, and resentment with you and your spouse for destroying their sense of normalcy. They may express fury and rage when what they really want is cuddling, attention or even something to eat. If you can remember that anger is usually the tip of the iceberg and the unmet needs are lying under the surface. Ask them what they need to feel safe.
6. Co-parenting and allowing a village to help raise the child. To succeed in life, children need as many caring strong adults in their lives as possible. If you, as an adult, are overwhelmed right now, then ask for help. Recruit teachers, clergy, youth leaders or neighbors to support your children through this process. Communicate with respect to your ex-partner and put the child’s needs first. The child needs both parents to stay involved and interested in his life.
7. Take responsibility for your own needs. If you are able to be calm and emotionally present, your kids will feel more at ease. They will feel reassured that they will be safe and taken care of, no matter what happens in life. You will be want to find a support system and practice some self-care. May I also recommend my book Out Of Balance? Be A Bounce-Back Person and http://www.bouncebackfromanything.com. You will find many methods to build resiliency and model this character trait for your children.
The Most Important Message To Convey
No matter how painful this period of time of change is for you, remember your child is also going through uncharted ground and transition. No matter how simple it may sound to you, the most important message to convey to family is “I love you.” Often adults assume that others know how much you love them, but children need lots of reassurance.
Divorce and separation can feel like a death. Both the adults and kids need time to grieve the loss of the dreams, family structure, and regular routine. As the caring adult that you are, I have confidence that you will do what is best for all family members, including yourself.
Be sure to claim your free eBook Use Encouraging Words today at http://www.ArtichokePress.com and join our community of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all.