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? How they will respond? 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.
5 Big Mistakes To Avoid
Here are the five mistakes most commonly made by parents. Be sure you don’t add stress to your children’s lives by making these errors.
1. Exposing your children to parental conflict.
That not only includes fighting. Bad-mouthing their other parent, eye-rolling, sarcasm and other disrespectful behavior or remarks count too. Studies show that this does more damage to children than any other factor in their lives – whether in a divorced or still married family.
2. 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. Spare your children the guilt, shame or confusion they’ll experience when put in such a difficult situation.
3. 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 if you’re fighting about the kids, it was never their fault!
4. Turning your children into confidants or pals.
Adults have trouble handling the emotions connected to divorce issues. Imagine how children feel when they receive inappropriate information they are helpless to do anything about? Let your friends, or better yet, a divorce coach, be your sounding board. Not your children.
5. Trusting your kids to be your messengers.
Kids are kids, even older teens. Don’t ask them to relay messages to their other parent on your behalf. Often, they’ll forget. Sometimes they’ll make a mistake. Other times they’ll sabotage the message because they have their own agenda. Use an online scheduling app, email or text to communicate with your ex and keep the kids out of the mix.
Their future is in your hands!
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 or Amicable Divorce model. Family therapists are always an excellent resource. You can also reach out 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.
Don’t underestimate how seriously your children will be impacted by this life altering news. Speak gently and with love. Prioritize having both parents together and aligned when you break the news. Avoid the pitfalls that make a tough conversation even tougher on your kids. With care and compassion, you can set the stage for a positive future for both you and your children.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC 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, learn about her coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting issues, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.