Archive for February, 2011
Whether your divorce is pending or five years behind you, your children continue to process the reality according to their age and level of understanding. There are several concepts that cause the most emotional turmoil for children. Being aware of these sensitive areas can help parents address these issues more effectively.
As your children age they may revisit your divorce with more questions, confusion or insecurity. That’s why it’s essential that you have answers ready based on a keen understanding of how children internalize a divorce – even long after it’s over.
There are two major concepts that can create the most emotional pain for children. The first has to do with blame and the second with unrealistic expectations. Here are some suggestions for handling these common challenges.
Children keep blaming themselves for the divorce – even after it’s over!
Regardless of what their parents may tell them, many children still believe they are the reason for their parent’s divorce. This is especially so if the children have heard their parents fighting about the kids and related parenting issues. It’s easy for a child to assume that if they had behaved better, fought less with their siblings, received better grades or helped more around the house, they could have prevented the subsequent divorce.
Your divorce may be long past, but some children still need to repeatedly hear the same message. It’s important to explain to them that divorce is always between Moms and Dads! Regardless of what they may have heard when their parents fought, children are never the cause of a divorce.
Using age-appropriate language it’s valuable to explain to your children that there are many reasons why people divorce. Sometimes they may have grown apart. Or the love they once had for each other has changed. Often they just can’t agree about issues in their lives. You don’t have to go into specifics in your own circumstances. The important point to make is that Mom and Dad both love you very much. And one thing is for certain: The divorce was not and is not your fault. You did not cause our divorce and you are not in any way to blame!
Children keep trying to fix your divorce – even after it’s over!
One of the saddest consequences of a divorce is the pressure some children put upon themselves to fix the problem. Getting Mom and Dad back together is a huge emotional burden that you don’t want your children to undertake. It’s a no-win situation that’s far beyond the capabilities of any child – even when they’re in their teens.
Nevertheless, many children invest time in wishing and trying to make everything okay and get both parents back home again. Part of their strategy may be trying to adjust their behavior so they never get scolded, striving for A’s at school and becoming the perfect child.
Some children take the opposite track. They create negative attention to distract Mom and Dad, hoping to side-track the divorce. By acting out, doing poorly in school, jumping onto drugs or other negative behaviors, their intention is to make the divorce go away by keeping their parents engaged in these other demanding issues.
Again, it’s valuable to address these behaviors head-on. Talk about your children’s feelings. Let them know you understand and acknowledge their right to be angry, frustrated, hurt, confused or ashamed about the divorce. Explain, as well, that they can’t behave their way into avoiding or postponing a divorce – or restoring a marriage following a divorce. The more both parents are in accord regarding the finality of the divorce and the messages they are conveying, the easier it will be for your children to accept the tough reality they may have been trying to avoid.
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Rosalind Sedacca, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, is the author of the ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! The book helps parents create a unique personal family storybook that uses fill-in-the-blank templates to guide them through this difficult transition with optimum results. For Rosalind’s free articles, coaching services, book, child-centered divorce resources and free ezine, visit to http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Gandhi
Divorce can be a major stumbling block to our happiness and personal growth. Holding grudges and resentments have been proven to be harmful to your physical health and emotional well-being. Forgiveness is a productive way to move forward, detach from the past and let go of lingering hurts so you can experience a healthier, more promising future.
It is not uncommon to resent the people closest to us because they have often done us some harm such as violating our trust through a lie, betrayal, deceit or abuse. However, resentment comes at a big cost to you.
When you can’t let go of hurt and anger, it builds into a resentment or grudge. That feeling can take hold of you growing to envelope your whole life and all of your thoughts. Resentments make it difficult to enjoy your present life. They define who you are and how you act. Grudges are like mental poison that doesn’t hurt anyone else, but you. When you hold on to a grudge, it makes you bitter, which depletes you of your strength and reduces your overall well-being.
Here are some common behaviors that indicate you may be holding on to a grudge:
Passive-aggressive behavior: While often very subtle, this behavior is focused on getting back at the person you are angry at through indirect means. Holding back necessary information, tense silences, or saying there’s nothing wrong when obviously you are really angry are typical indicators of passive aggressive manipulation.
Sarcastic remarks: These remarks indicate there is still strong emotion behind what you’re thinking, even though you may be saying you’re “just kidding.”
Short, abrupt comments: Comments of this nature suggest your intolerance and annoyance. They usually are delivered with a certain intonation in your voice.
Below are some questions to ask yourself for insights about your own behavior:
1. Do you still want to get back at your spouse?
2. To what extent will you do things to annoy him/her?
3. Do you generally tend to hold on to grudges/resentments? For how long?
4. Can you let them go?
If you are besieged with intrusive thoughts and feelings about your former spouse, telling you how right you are and how wrong they are, you are likely to be developing a grudge. These one-sided dialogues with yourself make it harder to work on developing a more forgiving attitude and ultimately letting go.
It is helpful to truly understand what forgiveness is and how it can be of value to YOU in determining whether this is a strategy to embrace in your life.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! Acclaimed by divorce professionals, the book provides fill-in-the-blank templates that guide parents in creating a family storybook with personal photographs as an ideal way to break the news. For more details, a free ezine, articles, coaching and other resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.