We were so intrigued by Rosalind Sedacca’s advice on positive parenting and divorce for a recent piece here on the Kars4Kids Educational Blog for Parents, that we asked her to elaborate on the subject in a guest post. To our great pleasure, she immediately accepted the challenge. We believe our readers will find this blog post both helpful and informative!
Divorced Parents: 5 Ways to Avoid Scarring Your Kids!
Let’s face it, divorce impacts everyone in the family. But it doesn’t have to scar your children if you remember to put their emotional and psychological needs first when making crucial decisions. Keep in mind that every decision you make regarding your divorce will affect the wellbeing of your children in a multitude of serious ways. Of course, the emotional scars are not only harder to see, they’re also much harder to erase.
Here are 5 ways to avoid scarring or wounding your kids as you move through your divorce and transition into your new life afterwards.
1. Emphasize that your kids are not at fault.
It is common for children to tend to blame themselves for divorce, no matter how bad Mom and Dad’s relationship has been. The younger the child, the more likely this is so. Sit down together and talk to your kids, emphasizing that they are in no way at fault for your divorce.
You can say something like: “Mom and Dad don’t agree about certain key issues and that has created conflict. Even when some of the issues are about you, it does not mean you are to blame. You are an innocent child whom we both love.
“Sadly, Mom and Dad disagree about certain important issues — but not about our love for you. You are not to blame for our divorce.”
2. Put your attention on change — not on blame.
Divorce always results in change within the family. Some of those changes can be beneficial and create a more peaceful environment for your children. Just don’t ever burden them with adult information and judgments.
Remind them instead that change is an inevitable part of life and not necessarily bad. Let your children see that everything in life keeps changing. “You grow bigger every year. Seasons change, clothing styles change, your school classes change. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to changes, like when you get a new teacher or try a new sport. In time you may come to like these new changes. Let’s give it a try.”
3. Keep from bad-mouthing your soon to be Ex.
When you belittle, put down, or in any way disrespect your child’s other parent – regardless how justified you may feel in doing so – it hurts your children in deep and long-lasting ways. Children innately love both their parents and feel a connection to them. When you insult their other parent it creates confusion, guilt, sadness, anger, insecurity and low self-esteem in your children.
Instead, remind them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents and will always love them. Reassure them that no one will replace Mom or Dad either. “We will both always love you and be there for you, no matter where we live or how things should change.”
Then make it your business to do the right thing on their behalf.
4. Let your kids enjoy their childhood.
As tempting as it may be, never confide adult content, the down and dirty details of your marriage, to your children. They are not psychologically prepared to handle the emotional complexity. Many adults aren’t either.
Save your venting for trusted friends, a divorce counselor, or a support group. Never ask your children to spy; to act as messengers between parents; or to provide inappropriate details about the other parent’s home life. Involving them in the nitty-gritty of your divorce pressures them in many ways – none of which are positive.
It is not your children’s place to assume adult responsibilities or to help you to find evidence against your ex. Let your kids be kids. Don’t rob them of their childhood.
5. Put yourself in your child’s shoes.
Before making any decisions regarding divorce issues, think about the consequences for your children. See the outcome through the eyes of your five, ten, or fifteen year old. Ask yourself: what will they say to me about this when they are grown adults? Will they thank me for the way I handled the divorce – or be angry and resentful about my attitude and behavior?
The choices you make now will affect your children for years and decades to come. For their sake, take the high road and be the role model they will come to respect and later want to emulate.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.