What Your Children Want In Your Divorce
le emotional state, if you have children, you are likely worried for them. The good news is children of divorce can be just fine. It’s really about how you manage yourself and your interactions with them during this time of chaos and overwhelm for you.
When you ask children about their needs when their parents divorce, there are essentially four things kids want:
- Love me as you always have. You know your love for your children hasn’t changed and kids should know, by having you tell them explicitly, that you love them now as much as ever.
- Allow me to love my other parent as I always have. You are getting the divorce, not your kids. Although they may see you express emotion, and that is ok sometimes, they should know that loving their other parent is a good thing too. This is true even if you have been betrayed, lied to or just feel let down.
- Don’t talk disparagingly about my other parent even if you need to share something unpleasant that has occurred with me. We are all human who may occasionally make mistakes but try, for your kids’ sake, to explain things that happen without criticizing their other parent. Kids are part of their other parent, whether biologically or through adoption, so taking the other parent down a peg knocks them down too. Don’t do it.
- Take care of yourself so I don’t think I have to do so. You may be sad, angry and disappointed but you also have a life to live. You have at least one child who is watching what you do as a model for their own life. How do you want to show them that you can and will manage what has occurred? If you play the victim, and act helpless, will they think it’s their job to step in? Even if you briefly think you can’t manage another way, imagine if they pick up on this pattern of relationships in their their own life. It’s the rare parent that doesn’t want more for their own child than themselves. Even if the only way to see yourself through the divorce is to imagine it through your child’s eyes, do so. Create opportunities for fun, even joy, and over time it will make a difference. Your children will see this too.
How to do these crucial four things when the overwhelm of emotion and chaos of divorce is occurring? There are many ways to approach separation and divorce but if you must have a relationship with your STBX (soon to be ex) because of children, and if you have children, even adult children, you likely will, you need to prioritize how to do that and prioritize the four steps. Even, again, if it’s unpleasant and distasteful right now. In the long-term, it will help you and the kids.
Therefore, it is a mistake to believe that who you hire in divorce will not impact what follows. Do you want anger, confrontation and defensiveness? Your STBX may already be inclined to this sort of behavior but understanding the process of separation and divorce, and choosing professionals wisely at the beginning, can help de-escalate rather than inflate conflict. Recommendations of friends and family can be helpful but may not be right for you. So, what can you do, even if you are already mid or post divorce? What if you have already made some decisions in separation and divorce, face others, and are at a crossroads for your thinking and decision-making?
Consider speaking with a divorce coach. A divorce coach is an objective thinking partner who can offer you neutral support as you make the best decisions for yourself and your children. A coach does not tell you what to do but helps you frame your thinking to make good decisions for yourself and your kids. Divorce coaches often also have large referral networks to help you decide what expertise you may need outside of coaching: emotional, financial, and/or legal advice. A coach helps you continue a path that prioritizes your children and sometimes to shift some behavior and attitudes that may interfere with that process. It can be the best money you spend in divorce.
You know you want the best for your kids and yourself. Meet their needs and yours by following the four steps. We are here to help.