By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Divorce can stop us in our tracks and overwhelm anyone with anxiety, sadness and depression. This is especially true for parents who have the added responsibility of caring for innocent children. Now we are confronted by an additional challenge: coping with divorce during a pandemic health crisis. And it’s up to us to create a positive mindset not only for ourselves, but for our children as well.
Here are 5 important keys to keeping a positive perspective during these tough times.
- Monitor your thoughts and beliefs.
Yes, we’re all beyond tired of this pandemic. But coping skills are all we have to keep us safe and sane! What we tell ourselves influences how we feel and how we treat others. Catch yourself if you’re falling into a blame game about how belligerent your former spouse is behaving or how difficult the kids are. Let’s face it, no one is happy about our present circumstances and limitations. Instead, find things to focus on that are working well: a good dinner, playing a fun game with the kids, a warm phone call with a friend. Little things matter at this time. Look for them and you’ll discover experiences to be grateful for. Ignore this advice and you can find yourself falling into the depths of despair and family conflict.
- Know this won’t last forever.
Accepting and initiating change in life isn’t easy at any time. It’s really difficult during a crisis. Take small steps adapting to changes you don’t like and can’t control. Play some mind games with yourself. Remember happier times, how you felt and imagine you’re planning to experience those events and activities again soon. See how your mood shifts. Talk to the kids about happy memories of the past that you shared together. Reminiscing about parties, vacations and happy times playing sports can trigger smiles and warm conversations. Savor the laughter and special moments. And when you or your children are feeling down, remind everyone that this too shall pass.
- Step up as a role model for your kids.
Your children are always watching and learning from you. Why not make this difficult time a teachable experience in accepting what is with grace. Focus on making healthy choices with your kids and seeing the good in new challenges. They are always there if you look. Ask yourself, what am I teaching my children about coping with tough times and difficult issues? Are you modeling mature, responsible behavior? Are you finding innovative ways to overcome obstacles along with them? What memories will we have of this crazy time in our lives? What lessons are we learning as a family?
- Address conflict with extra compassion and understanding.
Your former spouse is being challenged at this time as well. Some co-parents are using the pandemic as an excuse for being belligerent and taking advantage of new challenges. Others are facing issues beyond their control that need to be addressed. There are no easy answers. But there are ways of communicating that diffuse or ignite tension. Make sure you do your best to be rational and compassionate with one another. Look for compromises and mutually beneficial adjustments that work for everyone in the family. Communicate via online scheduling tools such as 2Houses.com to keep from engaging in angry drama. Remember to put the kids first. Remind one another that flexibility goes a long way toward maintaining balance and peace. Seek out a coach or counselor for advice before engaging attorneys and the court.
- Self-care is meant to share.
As difficult as these days are, your kids need you more than ever. Look them in the eyes with a smile. Be a light in their life. Not always feeling up to the task? No one is. That’s why it’s often wise to seek out professional support. To be strong for your family you can’t ignore your own personal needs. So, make time to relax, step away from responsibilities and laugh! Counselors, coaches and support groups are all available online around the world. You’re not alone. And you may even discover within a deeper sense of self-confidence that you hadn’t recognized before.
Let these 5 steps guide you on the path to sanity and compassion as we all tackle challenges we’ve never faced and hope to never experience again.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She is 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, coaching services, blog articles and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues are all available at http://www.childcentereddivorce.com