By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Many families time their separation or divorce for the summer months to take advantage of the school break. But for many other families the divorce decision comes in the midst of the school year. January is one of the most common months to start the process.
There are several reasons why this sometimes becomes a necessity. Many couples considering splitting decide to wait until after the holidays to break the news to their children. Others wait to take advantage of year-end job bonuses so they’ll have the extra funds to cover attorney, moving and other related expenses. Still others are faced with unexpected circumstances that accelerate the decision to divorce.
Regardless, it’s not the why that should be concerning us at this time – it’s the how. How are we as parents going to approach this separation or divorce – and howwill it affect our innocent children?
Navigating the Challenges of a Mid-School Divorce
I, too, planned my separation mid-school year more than two decades ago. 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 will keep school-related schedules, after-school activities, playtime with friends and other routines as much the same as possible.
Choosing to share the co-parenting responsibilities, my former husband and I each maintained a residence, intentionally located within a couple of miles from each other. Our son got off the school bus at one house or the other, with little disruption of his normal routine.
At the end of the school year one of his teachers came up to me saying she just learned that 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 A’s. 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. Or that I’d be writing a book about how to break the divorce news to your children. Or I’d be alerting parents about how to create a positive outcome, during and after divorce, for everyone in the family.
Co-Parenting Advice For Every Divorced Parent
My advice is simple, but not always easy. Put yourself in your child’s place and feel the insecurity, fear, anxiety, guilt and shame that your child may be experiencing. Make decisions based on how he or she is going to look back and remember these next several years.
Here are some vital questions to ask yourself and your co-parent before making any decisions regarding divorce or separation when you have children:
- Are you putting their physical, emotional and psychological needs first?
- Are you respecting the fact that children innately love both parents and are wounded when one of them is disparaged, regardless of your personal perspective about it?
- Are you forcing your child to be a messenger, spy or go-between, taking on responsibilities that children should not bear?
- Are you asking your child to choose between loving Mom or Dad, or take sides in any way?
- Are you keeping their other parent from active participation in their life because you want to hurt your former spouse?
These are crucial questions to answer because destructive behaviors and decisions are too often made without considering the effects on the children who are inevitably scarred from the inside out.
Keep this in mind: It’s not divorce per se that harms children. It’s how you approach your divorce as a parent that makes all the difference in the world.
What decisions are you making? What actions are you taking? Have you thought through the consequences and the emotional impact on your child?
Having created the Child-Centered Divorce Network along with e-books, e-courses, coaching services and other resources for parents, my mission is clear: encouraging parents to consciously choose to create a cooperative, harmonious Child-Centered Divorce which will benefit the entire family for months, years and decades to come.
My son is proof that it can work successfully.
Do you have a success story? Please share it with us on my Facebook page Child-Centered Divorce or in the comments below.
Also, visit www.divorcedparentsupport.comduring Child-Centered Divorce Month in January to pick up free tips, tools, advice and other gifts from divorce experts around the world.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, 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, coaching services, expert interviews, programs, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
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