By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
During and after divorce your children may be hyper-sensitive about
many things. What may have been routine conversations,
questions or activities can now be touchy subjects. Often, they’re
compounded by anxiety, resentment or ager. This is understandable
when you consider that the stability of the world they knew has been
dramatically altered. Minor insecurities can easily grow into major
problems. Children may regress in their behaviors and skills. Some
become more clinging – others more aloof – depending on their
adaptability and perspective about the divorce.
This is a time to master the art of good parent/child communication.
It will help to reinforce or rebuild trust. And it will boost a sense of
security and confidence that things will be okay again – despite
the changes inflicted by your divorce.
Here are 5 solid tips for more effective communication with your
children. Master them today and they will strengthen your intimacy and love
bond for years and years ahead.
Create safety and intimacy when you talk!
Keep your conversations private – at times when others are not
around. This assures a more relaxed connection, more intimacy and
safety. Your child is more likely to open up and confide their real
feelings when they know they have your full attention. That means
close the computer, put down the phone and turn off the TV. Let
your child know you are interested in what they are feeling and
Listen more than you lecture to be effective!
Listen carefully to get the gist of what they are saying, even if
you don’t like the message. Don’t interrupt or correct them as they
speak. You’ll have your turn. If they don’t feel “heard,” you
are likely not going to have another chance at real communication.
Here’s where “active listening” skills are a real plus. 1) paraphrase
back what you think you’ve heard. 2) look directly at them, and nod
your head to show you’re listening. 3) then ask if you got the message
right after you’ve repeated it. 4) if not, start again until your child feels
“heard” and acknowledges that.
Avoid shaming, blaming or judging your kids!
Focus more on what happened rather than “why.” Allow the entire
story to be told or all their feelings to be shared without jumping
to judgment. You can still parent, explain your values, and support
your decisions. Just do it without minimizing your child’s right to their own
“take” on things. Also remind your child that they are loved and
accepted, despite what they think or have done. Shame and blame
create a troublesome gap that’s hard to close. You can reject the
behavior without rejecting the child.
Strive for authentic, empathic solutions and life lessons!
Avoid the lectures, the smug ”I told you so’s” and the moralizing
put-downs. That includes other forms of embarrassing your children,
especially if others are around. Instead offer constructive ways to
remedy the situation when possible. Brainstorm together. Remind your child
that not all challenges can be neatly resolved or agreed upon by
all parties. Often, it’s a process of give and take. This can be a valuable
life-lesson for them when shared with empathy, compassion and insight.
While it’s often easier to provide negative feedback, try to end
your communication in a positive tone. This will encourage
additional conversations and their willingness to confide in you
again, when things are not going well. Find something you can praise
in their behavior or their communication so they feel valued and
significant. “Thanks for listening to me so attentively, for not getting
angry, for letting me explain why we can’t do that now.”
Remember, divorce imposes changes within the family that your
children never asked for. With these thoughts in mind, you’ll deepen
your relationship with your children at a time when they need it most!
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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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