By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
As a divorced parent, what lessons and behaviors are you modeling for your children?
Bad things can happen to good people. Divorce is a prime example. Good people get divorced. Responsible people who are loving parents get caught in the decision to end a loveless or deceitful marriage.
The messages you convey will influence your children into adulthood. Here’s valuable advice on leaving a positive imprint on your innocent children.
Making Choices With Awareness
The consequences of how you handle your divorce can either be life affirming or destroying. It depends on how each parent approaches this transition. Parents who are blinded by blame and anger are not likely to learn much through the experience. They see their former spouse as the total problem in their life. Consequently, they are convinced that getting rid of that problem through divorce will bring ultimate resolution. These parents are often self-righteous about the subject. They give little thought to what part they may have played in the dissolution of the marriage.
Parents at this level of awareness are not looking to grow through the divorce process. They are more likely to ultimately find another partner with whom they have similar challenges or battles. Frequently they find themselves once again caught in the pain of an unhappy relationship.
Learning Lessons For the Future
There are others, however, for whom divorce can be a catalyst for greater self-understanding and reflection. These parents don’t want to repeat the same mistakes. Instead, they choose to be fully aware of any part they played in the failure of the marriage. Self-reflective people ask themselves relevant questions. To find the answers they search within. The process is often easier with the assistance of a professional counselor or coach. With this support, strive to understand what you did or did not do and how it affected the connection with your spouse.
Introspective parents consider how they might have behaved differently in certain circumstances. They question their motives and actions to make sure they came from a place of clarity and good intentions. They replay difficult periods within the marriage to see what they can learn, improve, let go of or accept. They take responsibility for their behaviors and apologize for those that were counter-productive. They also forgive themselves for errors made in the past. Most important of all, they look toward being able to forgive their spouse in the same light.
The insights and lessons can ultimately be seen as “gifts” from the divorce because they can transform your life.
Protecting Your Children Through the Process
Reflective parents are honest with their children when discussing the divorce. But only to the age-appropriate degree that their children can understand.
Honesty doesn’t mean confiding adult-level information to children who cannot grasp these issues. Nor does it mean using your child as a confidant or spy on your behalf!
Children’s brains aren’t fully developed until they’re in their mid-twenties. That means even older teens are not able to comprehend the complexity of adult relationships. Don’t catch them up in emotional conflict or drama they can’t fix or heal!
What you can do is remind your children that both parents still, and always will, love them? And remember, your former spouse will always be a parent to your children. So speak about them with respect around the kids. They will appreciate this more deeply than you know. Many children of divorce will thank you once they’re grown up!
Paving the Way To Brighter Years Ahead
Apply what you learned from the dissolved marriage to you future relationships. It initiates the momentum to recreate new lives in a better, more fulfilling way. From this perspective, you can see your prior marriage not as a mistake. Instead, it’s a stepping-stone to a brighter future – both for you and for your children.
When you choose to learn from your life lessons, they were never experienced in vain. Isn’t this a lesson you want to teach your children?
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & 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! The book provides fill-in-the-blank templates for customizing a personal family storybook that guides children through this difficult transition with optimum results. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right! … her Coaching Services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.