By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Many families experience separation or divorce as summer approaches, taking advantage of the school break to ease post-divorce transitions. There are many other families, however, that make the split during the school year.
There are several reasons why this sometimes becomes a necessity. Many couples considering a divorce decide to wait until after the holidays to break the news to their children. Others wait to take advantage of year-end job bonuses. This can provide additional funds to cover attorney, moving and other related expenses. Still others are faced with unexpected circumstances which accelerate the decision to divorce.
Regardless, it’s not the why that matters most at this time – it’s the how. How are these parents going to approach their separation or divorce – and how will it affect their innocent children?
Compassionate, mindful decisions make all the difference!
I, too, planned my separation mid-school year. My son was eleven at the time. We told him a couple of days after Christmas but didn’t make the physical split until February 1st.
Obviously, school-year separations can be especially difficult for school-age children. Parents need to bend over backwards to minimize the changes and transitions in their child’s life. That means keeping school-related schedules, after-school activities, playtime with friends and other routines as much the same as possible.
Choosing to co-parent, my former husband and I each maintained a residence, intentionally located just a couple of miles apart. Following our parenting plan, our son got off the school bus at one house or the other, as part of his normal routine. At the end of the school year one of his teachers mentioned she just learned my husband and I split up in February. She said she was quite surprised because my son didn’t skip a beat in school. He still maintained his straight As. You can’t imagine how gratifying that was for me.
Little did I know then that a decade later I would be founding the Child-Centered Divorce Network. Then become a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach. And soon after, write books and courses devoted to alerting parents about the pitfalls of divorce if their decisions are not child-centered.
Regardless of when you split, my advice is simple, but not always easy. Put yourself in your child’s place. Feel the insecurity, fear, anxiety, guilt and shame your child may be experiencing. Make decisions based on the child you both know and love. How is he or she going to look back and remember these next many years? And the decades ahead!
Questions to answer for a more positive family outcome!
Here are some pertinent questions to ask yourself before making any co-parenting decisions:
- Did you put their physical, emotional and psychological needs first?
- Did you respect the fact that children innately love both parents? That they are wounded when one parent is put down or disparaged by the other?
- Did you force your child to be a spy or go-between, taking on responsibilities that children should not bear?
- Did you ask your child to choose between loving either parent, or take sides in any way?
- Did you try to make your child your confidant, siding with you or helping you cope with your challenges?
- Did you keep their other parent from active participation in their life because you wanted to hurt your former spouse?
Destructive behaviors and decisions are often made without considering the effects on the children. When you’re a parent, divorce is not just about you. It’s about protecting your innocent children who can be scarred from the inside out.
The good news is, you have other choices. Your children need not be wounded by the breakup. Keep in mind, it’s not divorce itself that harms children. It’s the parent’s approach to divorce that makes all the difference in the world. How are you approaching these challenges? Are you reaching out for help if you need support?
Through the Child-Centered Divorce Network, website, blog, coaching, programs and other resources, my mission is clear. I encourage parents to consciously create a cooperative, amicable, harmonious separation or divorce. An outcome that will benefit the entire family for months, years and decades to come. My own son, and the children of my many clients, is proof that it can work successfully.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – With Love! To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, and learn about her coaching services, programs and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit https://www.childcentereddivorce.com.