By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
As a divorcing parent are you worried about your kids? Most parents share a deep love for their children – along with the desire to protect them from emotional or physical harm. However, when the sanctity of the marriage is disrupted by divorce, things can dramatically change.
Divorcing parents don’t always know how to give kids the support they need. Caught up in their own anger and hurt, it’s tempting to lash out, get back at their former partner, and take revenge. Too often, the children are caught in a parental power struggle. Collateral damage when parents vent their frustration or rage. The outcome is painful for everyone in the family!
Children crave and need their parent’s support
So how can you support your children and parent them effectively throughout this challenging time? And how can you co-parent effectively in the years ahead? Here are 9 tips for staying sane and remaining a responsible parent during and long after your divorce.
- Nurture yourself first so you are CENTERED and balanced regarding issues as they arise. Seek out a support system through counseling, coaching, a divorce group or classes. Knowing there’s a place to turn for answers, tips, smiles and a shoulder to lean on is extremely helpful. It can get getting you through the most difficult obstacles.
- Reassure your children frequently that they are not to BLAME. Remind them that things will work out okay. Tell them you are always there for them and value their opinions and thoughts. Then behave as a mature adult and create a cooperative relationship with their other parent. Get the professional help you may need to guide you along the way, if necessary.
- Listen more than you talk so your children really feel HEARD. This is especially important when they share their feelings, vent their frustrations, and express their perspectives about their altered life. Let them know they MATTER!
- Acknowledge what they FEEL even if you don’t like what you hear. Let your kids know they are not crazy for feeling that way. Don’t make them wrong for disagreeing with you. Don’t punish them for being reluctant to accept the changes in their life. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand.
- Always speak RESPECTFULLY about their other parent to the kids, friends and family, teachers and neighbors. Badmouthing your ex is one of the worst mistakes any parent can make. It hurts your children on a deep emotional level.
- Show respect for your CO-PARENT by not asking the kids to reveal secrets about their other parent. Don’t grill them for details when they returning from a parenting visit. Discuss this with your co-parent and ask your children to treat you both in the same way.
- Be attentive to honoring your agreements and PROMISES with your kids. Don’t manipulate or take advantage of them. They will hold you accountable when they are grown adults. And the payback is a costly price!
- Speak as HONESTLY as you can with your children. But never burden them with adult content they are not emotionally prepared to handle. Ask yourself, “How will my kids benefit from this information? What value will telling them have in their lives right now? Will it rob them of their childhood? Will they or I ultimately regret it?”
- Give your kids more of YOU and spend less time substituting material things for your attention. New clothes, toys or technology can’t replace the devotion, respect and sense of self-confidence that is nurtured through a parent’s love.
Be mindful about your behavior
You can learn to use your divorce as a stepping stone for greater good in your future. But don’t let divorce use you! Be mindful. Think before you act. Reach out with your questions. Ask for support!
Remember, you will always be your child’s parent. As will your former spouse. When you model mature, responsible behavior you are giving your children the greatest gift of all – a caring and empowered parent!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books, e-courses and programs on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Doing Co-Parenting Right: Success Strategies For Avoiding Painful Mistakes! go to: childcentereddivorce.com/book
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