Archive for the ‘How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?’ Category
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Children are affected by divorce differently at different ages and in reaction to differing circumstances in their lives. But one thing’s for certain, they need to be part of ongoing dialogue about your divorce before, during and long after so they feel connected to you, safe, secure and loved.
What should you discuss with your child – and how? Here are some important concepts and strategies to keep in mind as you share parent/child conversations about life in a family affected by divorce or separation.
• Be sure to answer questions honestly but age-appropriately. Don’t discuss adult material with your children, even teens, as temping as it may be. Use friends as confidants, not your children.
• Be compassionate and keep an optimistic perspective. “Things may be difficult now, but they will get better. We’ll take things one day at a time. Change may seem frightening at first, but often it turns out to be a good thing for everyone.”
• Avoid creating loyalty conflicts for your child. Don’t ask them to choose sides. Ask questions with sensitivity: “I don’t want you to feel like you’re betraying your
father/mother or like you’re spying, but tell me….”
• Avoid giving hope of reconciliation to your child. That can prolong confusion, play havoc with their emotions and may lead to behavior problems.
• Never “label” your child (a liar, brat, bad, a problem) or say, “You’re just like your mother/father.” Children tend to become what they are labeled, or fear that if they are “just like Mom/Dad,” then maybe you will leave them too.
• Be careful not to introduce too many changes at once or too quickly. Stability is important.
• Encourage communication between your child and the other parent. If you sense a problem between them, talk about it with them. Sometimes you may have to speak up on your child’s behalf. Or you may have to give your child permission to express love for their other parent because they may feel guilty or disloyal if they do.
Your understanding and compassion towards your children are crucial during and after divorce. Put yourself in their shoes and see the world from your child’s perspective before talking with them about your expectations and changes they are facing. Be receptive to listening to their feelings and acknowledging their right to express how they feel, even when it’s not what you want to hear. When children feel heard and understood they are less likely to act out and disrespect you as the parent.
As tough as this time may be for you, remember, it’s even tougher on your kids. By keeping that in mind you will be a more effective and loving parent in the months and years ahead!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce and Parenting Coach. She is founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents and author of the internationally acclaimed ebook: How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! Her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right is available at www.childcentereddivorce.com.
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Getting divorced or separated. Not sure how to tell your kids? Learn the most common mistakes parents make when having the “divorce talk” so you can spare your children from unnecessary emotional trauma.
Getting psyched up to tell your children about your pending divorce — or separation? Not sure what to say? When to say it? How to say it? What to expect after the conversation? What to do next? How to deal with your special circumstances? What therapists, mediators, attorneys, clergy and other professionals suggest you do and don’t do to make things better all around? Well, you’re not alone. Having the “divorce talk” with a child you love is one of the toughest conversations you’ll ever have. Shouldn’t you be prepared?
Professionals all agree on some of the most common mistakes parents make when bringing up divorce or separation. These include:
- Fighting around the children – even on the phone!
- Using the children as spies or messengers
- Asking children to bear the guilt and confusion of making decisions or choosing sides
- Failing to remind children that none of this is in any way their fault
- Forgetting to emphasize that Mom and Dad will still always be their Mom and Dad — even after divorce!
- Confiding adult details to children in order to attract their allegiance or sympathy
- Badmouthing their other parent to alienate the kids from them
- Failing to create a safe, secure and peaceful environment for your children so they can continue their childhood!
These are just some of the most common messages that parents fail to convey because they’re not aware, not prepared, feeling self-righteous — and sometimes quite scared!
If you’re about to tackle this tough conversation – or you know someone who is – there’s help you can depend on to simplify the process. Don’t wing it unprepared. You wouldn’t go on vacation or plan a party without advanced preparation. Why tackle one of the most important and emotionally charged talks you’ll ever have with your children without giving it just as much – if not more – thought and attention?
If you’re not sure what to say and how to say it in age-appropriate language, there are many resources available to help you. Therapists, coaches and mediators provide excellent personal guidance. Collaborative divorce attorneys (those who specialize in creating non-adversarial divorce solutions) can be of great assistance at this time. So can clergy, school Guidance Counselors and parenting experts. There are many articles and books written on the subject as well.
My own internationally-acclaimed ebook provides a unique approach through the creation of a personalized family storybook – prepared in advance – with photos and fill-in-the-blank templates. To learn more about How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! visit http://www.howdoitellthekids.com.
However you approach this challenging conversation, be prepared. Understand the effects – both emotionally and psychologically – this news can have on your children, and learn how to avoid the common mistakes parents make when they haven’t done their homework in advance. You and your children can survive – and even thrive after divorce. Think before you leap and give your family a sound foundation on which to face the changes ahead with security, compassion and love.
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Rosalind Sedacca, a Divorce and Parenting Coach and founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network for parents, is the author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! To learn more about the ebook, visit http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. For a free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her free ezine and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
Hear a short interview of Rosalind Sedacca on this subject at:
One of the most difficult conversations any parent will ever have is telling their children about their pending divorce. I know first-hand because many years ago I went through the experience. I fought and faced the overwhelming emotions. The deep gut-wrenching fear. The continuous anxiety. The incredible guilt. And the oppressive weight of shame.
My son, after all, was innocent. A sweet, gentle soul who loved his father and mother dearly. He certainly did not deserve this.
I struggled with the anxiety for weeks in advance. When should I tell him? How should I tell him? Should we tell him together? And most frightening of all, WHAT SHOULD WE SAY?
How do you explain to a child that the life he has known, the comfort he has felt in his family setting, is about to be disrupted – changed – forever?
How do you explain to a child that none of this is his fault?
How do you reassure him that life will go on, that he will be safe, cared for and loved, even after his parents divorce?
And, even more intimidating, how do you prepare him for all the unknowns looming ahead when you’re not sure yourself how it will all turn out?
I needed a plan. A strategy. A way of conveying all that I wanted to say to him at a level of understanding that he could grasp.
Thankfully I found that plan. I came up with a storybook that told my son, in words and pictures, the story of how his father and I met, married and started a family. It explained problems we encountered that we could not readily fix, and the decision we ultimately made to get a divorce.
In my internationally acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children—with Love! I provide fill-in-the-blank templates that other parents can use to prepare their children for the many changes ahead. The interactive format allows parents to customize the story to fit their family dynamics. It also focuses on six key messages that are essential for every child to hear, understand and absorb. By sharing and repeating these six points to your children in the weeks and months following the initial conversation, you will enable them to better handle, accept and even embrace the challenges and changes they will soon be facing. Here are the six must-tell messages for your children:
1) This is not your fault.
Mom and Dad have been having problems. We don’t agree about certain key issues and that creates conflict. Even when some of the issues are about you, that does not mean you are to blame. You are an innocent child who we both love and cherish. It is not your fault that Mom and Dad disagree about your bedtime, where to go on vacation, how to help you with your homework or whether you should play soccer. We are not fighting about YOU. We are disagreeing with each other about issues that concern you and our family. But you are not in any way at fault.
2) Mom and Dad will always be your parents.
No matter what changes occur over the weeks, months and years ahead, one thing is for certain. Mom and Dad will still always be your parents. No one else will ever be your real Mom. No one else will ever be your real Dad. We will both always love you and be there for you, no matter where we live or how things should change.
3) You are, and will continue to be, safe.
Even though there will be some changes ahead in our family, Mom and Dad will still be taking care of you. You are safe and there is nothing to be afraid of. You don’t have to worry about things. We’re making plans for our family and you are a very important part of every decision. So relax, and let Mom and Dad take care of things.
4) This is about change, not about blame.
Divorce is a scary word. But all it really means is that our family will be experiencing some changes. Change is okay. Everything in life keeps changing. You grow bigger, taller, stronger and smarter every year. The seasons change every year. Clothing styles and hair styles keep changing. You change grades and schools as you grow older. Change means things will be different in some ways. It doesn’t mean things will be bad. Change can be fun, exciting and new. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to changes, like beginning a new grade with a new teacher. Other times change gives us a chance to do things in a new and better way, like trying a new sport or a hobby you grow to love.
The change in our family is not about who’s right or wrong or who’s good or bad. Mom and Dad both tried their best to resolve our problems. The old way didn’t work for us and now we will be trying a new way for our family to live so there’s more peace, calmness and happiness for us all. Instead of worrying about who’s to blame, let’s think about how we can see the changes ahead as a new adventure — a brand new chapter in our lives. Who knows what lies ahead?
5) Things will work out okay.
We’re often frightened when we begin new things and face new challenges. Like the first time you learned to ride a bicycle, the first day of school or day camp, your first trip to the dentist. Things always have a way of working out, even when we’re scared that they won’t. Divorce will be the same way. Things will be new and different for a while.
We’ll have new ways of doing some things … some new responsibilities … some differences in our schedules. But life will go on. We will get used to the differences. Some of them we may even prefer. And after a while, we’ll look back and say, life is different than it used to be, but it’s all okay. I’m okay, our family is okay and, most important of all, we still love each other. That is a lot better than okay. It’s great!
6) Mom and Dad will always love you.
No matter what happens, no matter what changes occur, one thing is for certain. Mom and Dad will always love you. That will never change. Regardless of where we live, what we do and how old you get. You can count on that. And don’t ever forget it.
These core messages are the foundation your children will depend on when they are feeling frightened, sad or insecure. Repeat them often in your own words and your own style. You’ll be rewarded in countless ways as you and your children encounter and overcome the challenges of life after divorce.
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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, child-centered divorce resources, coaching services and free ezine, visit to http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
Ever go on a vacation without making plans in advance? The consequences are usually disastrous. If you fail to plan ahead regarding newspaper and mail delivery, feeding your pets or watering the plants, knowing where your destination is and reserving your accommodations, your vacation is likely to be filled with disappointment, frustration and even heartache.
What about preparing your children for your pending divorce? Do you have a plan – or are you going to wing it without any prior thought? For children, divorce is a monumental life experience for which they have no preparation. The very foundation of their security – their love for Mom and Dad – is being thrown into turmoil. Everything they knew and accepted as part of routine daily life is going to be affected Continue reading “What to Tell your Spouse Before You Tell the Kids — about the Divorce!” »