By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Facing divorce and stymied about how to tell your kids? Wondering how it will affect them? Worried about hurting them with the news? When’s the best time to talk? What to say and not say? What they will say? Not sure just what to confide?
Well, you’re not alone.
There’s no doubt this might be one of the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have. It’s a talk your children won’t want to have – and you must be prepared.
Here are the five mistakes most commonly made by parents regarding the divorce talk. Be sure you don’t add stress to your children’s lives by making these errors. You’ll find answers to the other questions on my blog at ChildCenteredDivorce.com.
1. Exposing your children to parental conflict or fighting.
Studies show that this does more damage to children than any other factor in their lives – whether in a divorced or still married family. Keep your battles away from your child’s eye and ears to ensure they still get to have the childhood they deserve.
2. Bad-mouthing their other parent.
Any display of disrespectful behavior and remarks about their other parent is hurtful to children. They may not tell you directly, but they feel the pain. Kids innately love both parents and want to protect them. Your voice tone, body language, snide comments, etc. add to your child’s stress at an already difficult time.
3. Making your children choose between their parents.
Don’t ask your children to make decisions or judgments regarding the parents they love. This puts enormous pressure on them. It’s your place to make all parenting decisions. Children feel guilty, anxious and confused when faced with such emotionally-charged choices.
4. Forgetting to emphasize that your children are innocent.
Often children blame themselves for their parent’s failed marriage. It is important to remind the kids often that they played no part in the decision to divorce. They are not to blame, even when their parents are fighting about them.
5. Turning your children into confidants or therapists.
Adults have trouble handling the emotions connected to divorce issues. Imagine how children feel when they receive biased or inappropriate information they are helpless to do anything about? Let your friends be your sounding board – not your children. Better yet, reach out to divorce experts for help.
The good news is there is lots of help available to you from qualified professionals. For a peaceful divorce, try mediation or an attorney specializing in the Collaborative Divorce model. Family therapists are always an excellent resource. You can also speak to clergy, guidance counselors in the schools or professional coaches who handle divorce and family issues. In addition, many outstanding books and articles provide expertise on this subject. The Child-Centered Divorce Network has free and low-cost ebooks and e-courses on telling kids about divorce, co-parenting successfully and moving on with your life.
Don’t underestimate how seriously your children will be impacted by the divorce news. Speak gently, with compassion and love. Avoid the pitfalls that make a tough conversation even tougher on your kids. With care and consideration, you can set the stage for a positive future for both you and your children.
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Rosalind Sedacca, is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network 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! To get Rosalind’s free ebook about Post-Divorce Parenting, her coaching services, programs and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.