By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Mental health experts always remind parents about the importance of talking to their children. Unfortunately, many parents need just such a reminder — especially in today’s mega-paced culture.
When life moves past Coronavirus fears and we’re not forced into quarantine we’ll be getting back into more familiar structure. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind about communicating effectively with your kids.
Just sitting down to a family dinner together can become a major accomplishment. Too often busy parents find themselves talking “at” their children, but not “to” them. And most especially, not “with” them.
This, of course, is problematic in any family trying to raise socially, emotionally and spiritually healthy children. However, it is especially dangerous if that family is facing the challenges of divorce or separation. If your parent-child communication skills and rapport is not optimal before discussions about divorce or family lifestyle changes come up, the likeliness of a peaceful, successful outcome is dramatically jeopardized.
Build trust and respect with your children
For that reason, more than ever before, parents need to create a bond of trust and support with their children when the family is facing any level of upheaval. If that respectful bond and trust is broken or tenuous, children are much more likely to feel abandoned, neglected and fearful about their safety and security in the face of separation of any kind.
Happily, it is never too late to bridge that gap and start authentic communication with your children. Honesty is always important in any parent-child relationship, but it becomes extremely significant at this time.
Be mindful of how to speak about your co-parent
Of course, all communication must be age-appropriate. And parent/child talks are never a license for a dumping session about your soon-to-be Ex or former spouse. Whining, complaining, sarcasm, disrespect and related behaviors are not healthy forms of communication, especially with sensitive children.
Children don’t want you to air your dirty laundry with them. They want to feel safe, loved, secure and supported as they move into a life transition they did not desire or create. Insulting or criticizing their other parent affects them to their core. Your children are innocent — and many parents need to remind themselves of this fact again and again.
Share your own feelings and life lessons
There has never been a better time than now to boost your level of communication with your children, regardless of your marital status. Share some of your own feelings and experiences with personal challenges before you start asking them questions about their life. Knowing that you also deal with fears, anxieties, doubts and related emotions gives your children permission to talk about those they are experiencing. It makes them feel more okay about their own insecurities. And it encourages them to talk more frankly with you about issues they face in all facets of their life.
Don’t wait for a special occasion to start honestly and candidly talking to your children. Determine to make sincere communication with your children a regular part of your family life. You will never regret it and you will come to reap surprising rewards in the months and years ahead!
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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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