By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Preparing to tell your kids you’re divorcing their other parent? Worried about how to broach the subject? Wondering what to say and do? Concerned about how they will react? How to handle their questions? How to deal with unexpected reactions? What the experts advise?
You’re not alone. Breaking the divorce news to children is one of the toughest conversations any parent will have.
You don’t want to make errors you will regret. You don’t want to loose your child’s love or respect. You don’t want to break their hearts.
That’s why I wrote, How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children – With Love!It’s a unique, very effective, family-focused approach that honors everyone in the equation, children and parents. It helps put both parents on the same page and gives your children hope for a happy future, which they so desperately need at this difficult time.
Learn more about this internationally endorsed ebook and its proven approach at www.childcentereddivorce.com/kids.
I also want to bring you attention to the most common mistakes parents make at this time. Below are 6 of the critically important ones to avoid. Keep this in mind during every conversation with your children. It will set and keep you on the right path.
6 Mistakes Every Divorcing & Divorced Parent Must Avoid:
- Don’t ever put your ex down in front of the kids. When you speak disrespectfully about your children’s other parent they are often hurt and riddled with guilt and confusion. Their thinking is, “If there’s something wrong with Dad or Mom, there must also be something wrong with me for loving them.” This can result in damaging your own relationship with your children, as well.
- Don’t ever fight around the children. Studies show that conflict is what creates the most pain and turmoil for all children, especially victims of divorce. Keep parental battles away from your children – even when they’re sleeping or when you’re on the phone. They deserve the peace of mind.
- Don’t ever pressure children to make choices. Most kids feel torn when asked to choose between their parents. They feel guilty, embarrassed, afraid. Don’t put them in that position. You can ask about their feelings but don’t give them the responsibility of making final choices.
- Don’t ever blame your kids – or forget to tell them they are not at fault. Don’t assume your children understand that they are victims in your divorce. Remind them frequently that they bare no blame in any way related to your divorce – even and especially if you are fighting with their other parent about them.
- Don’t ever share information only adults should be aware of. Parents often do this to bond with their children or try to win them over. It creates a burden that children shouldn’t have to bare. Talk to adults about adult issues. Even teens aren’t prepared to be your therapist or advisor.
- Don’t ever use your children as confidants or spies. Don’t ask and expect your kids to tell you secrets about their other parent’s life and home. It makes them feel uncomfortable and puts enormous pressure on them. Don’t make your kids your allies in plots against their mom or dad. They’ll resent you for it. Don’t make them feel guilty for loving their other parent – ever!
Fortunately you can reach out to many different professionals to help you if you’re not positive about how best to approach your children. Speak to a divorce coach, mediator or see a therapist who specializes in this subject. Find an attorney who practices Collaborative Law, which will result in more positive, cooperative outcomes. Seek the advice of parenting coaches, school counselors, clergy and other professionals. Don’t forget the many valuable books and articles on this topic available online and at www.childcentereddivorce.com.
Whatever you do, prepare yourself in advance when talking to your children. Be aware of the impact of your words on their innocent psyches. Avoid the mistakes we have discussed. Think before you speak or 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 is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of 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.childcentereddivorce.com/kids. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, free ezine, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.