Getting Divorced? What to Tell your Spouse Before You Tell the Kids!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Ever go on a vacation without making plans in advance? The consequences are usually disastrous. If you fail to plan ahead regarding newspaper and mail delivery, feeding your pets or watering the plants, knowing where your destination is and reserving your accommodations, your vacation is likely to be filled with disappointment, frustration and even heartache.

What about preparing your children for your pending divorce? Do you have a plan – or are you going to wing it without any prior thought? For children, divorce is a monumental life experience for which they have no preparation. The very foundation of their security – their love for Mom and Dad – is being thrown into turmoil. Everything they knew and accepted as part of routine daily life is going to be affected in one way or another.  They don’t know what to expect and have little source of comfort other than their parents who are announcing the devastating news.

How can you help your children through this process? First, sit down face to face and talk to your children’s other parent, as if their lives depended on it. Regardless of your involvement with attorneys or other legal resources, this should be a conversation between two parents who love their children and want the best outcome for them.

Agree to set aside the emotional drama of your feelings for one another at this time … the hurt, anger, resentment, jealousy, competition, frustration, regret … and focus on just one issue: How will we tell our children about the divorce?

Put yourselves in your children’s shoes.

Picture each of your children and talk to each other about how each child is likely to feel and react to the news. Put yourselves in their shoes and feel their emotions with deep compassion. You know your children. Discuss their ages and personalities. Are they likely to blame themselves … erupt in anger … beg you to stay together … want to run away and hide? Find a place of agreement and be prepared with the most comforting words and reassurances that will resonate with each child.

Remind them they are not at fault.

Many children feet responsible in some way for their parent’s relationship problems and divorce. They need reassurance, again and again, that the problem is not about them – even if you’ve been fighting about parenting issues. Assure them it’s not their behavior that caused your conflict – and there is nothing they can do to make things different. You can say something like, “Mom and Dad have been having problems. We don’t agree about certain key issues and that creates conflict. So we are going to make some changes, but none of this is your fault and never was.”

Reassure them that Mom and Dad will always be their parents.

Your children need to understand two things at this time. Mom and Dad will always love them – and will always be their parents. It is important to emphasize that no matter what changes occur over the weeks, months and years ahead, Mom and Dad will still always be their real parents and no one else will replace them. Tell them you both will always be there for them, no matter where you live or how things should change.

You can say, “No matter what happens, no matter what changes occur, one thing is for certain. Mom and Dad will always love you. That will never change. Regardless of where we live, what we do and how old you get. You can count on that. And don’t ever forget it.” Make sure you live up to that in the arrangements you will be making.

Focus on change, not on blame.

Divorce is a scary word. It is wise at this time to talk to your children about change as a natural part of life. “Everything in life keeps changing. You grow bigger, stronger and smarter every year. The seasons change. You change grades and schools as you get older. Change means things will be different in some ways. It doesn’t mean things will be bad. Often change can make things better, and that’s what Mom and Dad want to do.”

Explain that it can take time for us to get used to changes, like starting a new grade with a new teacher. Other times change gives us a chance to do things in a new and better way, like trying a new sport or a hobby you grow to love.

Mention that the changes in our family are not about who’s right or wrong or who’s good or bad. “Mom and Dad both tried their best to resolve our problems. The old way didn’t work for us and now we will be trying a new way for our family to live so there’s more peace, calmness and happiness for us all. Let’s think about how we can see the changes ahead as a new adventure — a brand new chapter in our lives. It may not only be different – it may be better!”

Be confident and consistent.

Children are often frightened when faced with new experiences – and divorce is a monumental challenge for them to grasp. Keep reminding your children that everything will be okay. “Mom and Dad are working on all the details so you don’t have to worry about anything because Mom and Dad have it all under control.”

 This isn’t the time to go into a lot of specifics. You may not have many answers yourselves. Keep the message very generic. “We’ll have new ways of doing some things … some new responsibilities … some differences in our schedules. But life will go on. We will get used to the differences. Some of them we may even prefer. And after a while, we’ll look back and say, life is different than it used to be, but it’s all okay. Mom and Dad are okay, you’re all okay, our family is okay and we still love each other.  And that’s most important of all!”

Ideally both Mom and Dad should tell the children together and agree in advance about the messages you are conveying. If you’re having the conversation alone, you must stay neutral and not talk disrespectfully about the other parent that your children still love. Focus on your children’s feelings and reactions. Respond compassionately in the best way you can.

These core messages are the foundation your children will depend on when they are feeling frightened, sad or insecure. Repeat them often in your own words and your own style. You’ll be rewarded in countless ways as you and your children encounter and overcome the challenges of life after divorce.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love!  Acclaimed by divorce professionals, the book provides fill-in-the-blank templates that guide parents in creating a family storybook with personal photographs as an ideal way to break the news. For more details, a free ezine, articles, coaching and other resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

 

© Rosalind Sedacca 2009 All rights reserved.

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Parents who live in glass houses

balloon boy

There is an old saying, “People who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.”

People aren’t meant to live in glass houses, which was the term before the invention of reality TV.

Just last week, the Balloon Boy story took over the headlines. We now know, it was a farce as his parents wanted to get a shot at reality TV. I know the unwritten law of parents, which is ironically, don’t throw stones, but he chose to live in a glass house and didn’t consider how it might impact his children.

Was it about the money? If the father, Richard Heane is convicted of conspiracy and false reporting, his children might be without their father for up to six years; the time he might serve in prison. He was looking for a reality show and instead might get a wake-up reality check.

At the risk of sounding harsh, do you ever wish you had a Stupid Ticket to give out in such cases? Well if you click on the link, you will.

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Is real life really like high school?

high school
I’ve heard it said that real life is like high school; full of uncertainly, figuring out who you are and how you fit in and what group(s) you belong to. Yesterday, I attended my 35 year high school reunion from St. Edmunds, which at that time was an all girl school.

If that statement is true, that real life is like high school; the outlook is good. We’ve grown up, gotten over the things that bothered us, though I did overhear a few “You know, you made my life hell” comments, but all in all what you remember, as the great Streisand so aptly sings in “The Way We Were” is,

it’s the laughter that we’ll remember.

The best feeling I came away with is that as women we’ve learned how to be good friends which in high school seemed as if it was much more of a challenge. Good lesson to teach our own daughters.

All the best to the class of 1974.

It’s the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.
-Marlene Dietrich, German movie actress (1901 – 1992)

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If only Chicago listened to three-year-olds

2016
With all the preparation and planning to host the 2016 Olympics, Chicagoans focused on how. Any three year old will tell you the better question is why.

Amazing what we can learn from kids if we’re listening and learning.

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It’s a bird; it’s a plane, it’s a helicopter parent

helicopter

Helicopter Parent: “A mom or dad who hovers over his or her children.”

In case you haven’t heard the term, “Helicopter Parents,” are always hovering–always helping–always rescuing–and always involved.

These are the parents who micromanage their kids’ play dates, science fair projects, and soccer game tournaments.

In high school they drive the teachers batty by hovering in at the first sign of a bad grade, making sure their kid’s schedule was stellar (with only the very best teachers), and writing those college entrance essays.

In college they are first on the scene setting up their kid’s dorm room (and complaining if the roommate wasn’t the perfect fit), and even calling the university president to complain about an unfair grade. Cell phones and e-mail have created umbilical bonds that are difficult to cut.

Well, now the kiddies have graduated and they are entering the workforce in mass numbers. It seems these parents are still hovering, but from all indications, their presence is now up a level — think “Black Hawk” mode. According to major businesses from coast to coast these parents are actually attending their kids job
fairs and interviews, negotiating salaries and benefit packages for their children and even demanding that the business call to let them know if their offspring got the job. And businesses are scratching their heads. What do we do with these parents?

Many are actually changing their long-standing practices to send notices of hiring intent to the parents as well as the kids.

This is over-the-top parenting. This isn’t mentoring but meddlesome, and it can rob kids of the self-reliance they need at this point in their grown-up lives. What can these kids fall back on if they have no internal resources of learning and failing because parents protected them from any ever experiencing failure?

Ask yourself a question before you jump in to save your child. What is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t step in?

If there was such a thing as a parent’s job description, it would probably say that we should raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted, independent children that contribute to society. Don’t wait till your child is twenty to celebrate Independence Day. Even very young children can and should have chores.

Though well-intentioned, the self-esteem movement of the last twenty years is what many believe to be the cause with the lack of self reliance many ‘twenty-somethings’ now face. Interestingly, that movement
started about the same time you would see those annoying ‘Baby on Board’ signs on cars.

It’s actually very simple. If you want your child to have self esteem, give them responsibilities. Begin when they are little with simple chores, and continue on as they get older.

Visit Parental Wisdom – Free Reports, and get a copy of the Chore Chart Ideas for a few ideas; add your own creativity. For example, if you want a four-year-old to pull up his bed covers every morning, take a few digital pictures of each step in the process and label the pictures with a big #1, #2 and #3 for each step. Leave it on a small poster so he will know and remember what to do. That will make your child feel good about his achievements and he is more likely to take on more responsibility.

This is one of the best ways to communicate with, and stay connected to your child.
Great way to avoid all the helicopter traffic.

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5 Tips to Prevent Scarring Your Kids After Divorce!

 By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Divorce need not wound and scar your children if you put their emotional and psychological needs first when making crucial decisions. Some parents don’t understand that every decision they make regarding their divorce will affect the well-being of their children in countless ways. The emotional scars are not only harder to see, they’re also much harder to erase.

Here are five keys to helping your children move through and thrive after divorce.

1)    Remind them this is not their fault.

Children 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 children, emphasizing that they are in no way at fault. 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 who we both love. Sadly, Mom and Dad disagree about certain important issues — but not about our love for you. You are not in any way at fault.”

2)    Focus on change — not on blame.

Divorce is all about change within the family structure. Often those changes can be beneficial and create a more peaceful environment for your children. Never burden them with adult information and judgments. Focus instead on the fact 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)    Respect your child’s other parent.

When you belittle, put down or in any way disrespect your ex – regardless how justified it may feel – 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, 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. 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 strive to do the right thing on their behalf.

4)    Let your children continue to be children.

While it may sometimes be tempting, never confide adult content to your children. They are not psychologically prepared to handle the emotional complexity. Save venting for trusted friends, a divorce counselor or support group.  Also never ask your children to spy, act as messengers between both parents or provide inappropriate details about the other parent’s home life. Again, this pressure’s them in many ways – none of which are positive. It is not their place to assume adult responsibilities or help you to find evidence against your ex.

5)    Make decisions through the eyes of your child.

Before making any decisions regarding divorce issues, think about the consequences for your children. 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 will affect your children for years and decades to come. For their sake, take the high road and be a role model they will want to emulate.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook™ Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love!  Her innovative approach guides parents in creating a personal family storybook, using fill-in-the-blank templates, family history and photos, as an effective way to break the news with optimum results. For more information, free articles, free ezine and other valuable resources visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.

 

© Rosalind Sedacca 2009 All rights reserved.

 

 

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Pets Help Kids Through Divorce: 6 Reasons Why

kids pets

Can a pet be helpful to your children during a divorce and the transition after? In my opinion, without a doubt! If your family has one or more pets, let your children have access to them as much as they desire. There is a great emotional benefit to them and your children are fortunate that the pets they love can still be in their lives.

If you don’t already have a pet, I recommend getting one – but only if you are in a position to be responsible to that innocent animal during this time of additional stress in your life. If a family pet is out of the question, please consider giving your children time to play with the pets of friends and family. Take them to petting zoos. Allow them contact with other life forms that can give them joy at a time when they are likely experiencing stress and insecurity.

In the United States alone, close to 65%, or about 71 million households have pets. Statistics from the National Pet Owners Survey say 39% of these households own at least one dog and 34% one or more cats. This should come as no surprise since pets can be a blessing in the life of any human being at any age.

Here are six key benefits a pet provides for families coping with divorce:

1. Unconditional Love: It has been proven again and again that pets are a source of support and unconditional love for children. During and after divorce, when there is so much instability and insecurity in a child’s life, a beloved pet can be the bridge to sanity. While much around them may be changing, sweet Fluffy is still there to love them and be by their side.

2. A confidant. Children like to talk to their pets. For most children pets are a trusted friend in which they can confide and share their deepest fears. This is truly a gift to children and greatly helps with emotional resiliency. Pets are nonjudgmental. They listen attentively. They “understand,” And they always love you back. Isn’t that what your children need at a time like this?

3. Security. Pets have been shown to help children better cope with challenging times within a family including divorce, illness and death. They feel less alone and abandoned. The relationship with the pet provides a deep sense of security that can’t easily be duplicated. In early childhood a stuffed animal often serves much the same purpose. But kids rarely outgrow their bond with Fluffy, even when they mature into their teens.

4. Bridge to adults. Pets can bridge the emotional and communication gap between adults and children – especially when Mom and Dad are preoccupied with so many other time-consuming details during and after a divorce. They are a valued part of the family, a source of calm as the family moves through the storm of post-divorce transition.

5. Stress Reduction. Medical studies have shown that pets are just as beneficial for adults. Walking and talking to your dog or petting your cat can actually lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, not to mention overall stress. Pets also are a great source of laughter and joy, a reminder that there are other aspects of life that are still wonderful to experience.

6. Best Friend. Pets also provide unconditional love, nurturing and comfort to adults who greatly need it as they transition through the grief of divorce. They’re a best friend when you’re alone and an appreciative ear when you want to vent or shed tears.

Connecting to other life forms is also a wonderful way to get a perspective about our place in the universe and our responsibilities toward others. When life can feel life it’s crashing in around us it is valuable to remember we share this planet with other beings who depend on us for love, sustenance and nurturing as well.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator and author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love. For her free articles, blog, valuable resources  on child-centered divorce or to subscribe to her free ezine, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.

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