Deciding to Divorce
What will the divorce do to my children?
When my daughter found out that her mother and I were getting a divorce, she didn’t know what to say. She was hurt and didn’t understand the reasons why. Even though she was young she had a lot of questions. Whatever the reasons it’s important to keep your children out of your personal business. It’s important to speak positively about your spouse to your children. Unfortunately, many parents use their children as a sounding board and share personal information about their divorce or separation. I promised myself I would not say anything negative about my soon-to-be ex-wife. On a few occasions I caught myself starting to say something negative but stopped myself before I said too much. Kids need to be kids during this time and not forced to take sides. Yet, it happens all the time. Last Christmas my now 30-year-old daughter called me and wanted to talk about some things that were bothering her about her mother’s and my divorce. Even though we’ve been divorced 22 years my daughter told me that her mother verbally ran me down and wanted to know why. Although I didn’t have an answer for her, she thanked me for not talking negatively about her mother. That statement said a lot to me. Being above-board does have its benefits.
Your children will experience many of the same emotions you have. They will go through depression, anger, low self-esteem and guilt. Allow them time to grieve. They will feel a great deal of pain through your divorce. I hear many parents in my office tell me that their children are fine with the divorce! The reality is, they are not. You may want to believe they are and try to convince yourself they are, but the truth is, this will be one of the most painful times in their lives. Your children will dream about having their parents back together. They long to have a mother and father in the same house. They might even ask what they did to cause the divorce.
What can you do to make it easier for your children during these stressful times? As I mentioned earlier in this article, don’t talk about your spouse in a negative way. It’s also important not to use your children as messengers between you and your spouse. My ex-wife would use my daughter to spy on me. After weekend visits, she would ask my daughter who I was talking to, what kind of friends I had, who I was dating and what kind of things was I buying. My daughter told me she hated it when her mother asked those questions. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your spouse. If your questions are not related to your children or the divorce, then don’t ask them. Why put any more stress on your children? They will learn to resent you if you put them in these uncomfortable situations.
Another thing to avoid is using your children as pawns. Some parents will restrict their children from seeing the other parent in an attempt to get even with them. This is not in the best interest of your children. They need the love and support from both parents during this very difficult time.
Several years ago while living in Wisconsin my daughter, who was 12 years old at the time, and I planned a trip to Central City and Blackhawk. We both loved history and all it had to offer in Colorado. We wanted to see gold mines, pan for gold, and tour the historical sites in the area. We had planned to leave on a Thursday morning at 3:00 a.m. Her mother and I agreed weeks prior to the trip that I would pick her up at that time. The day before our trip I got a call from my ex-wife that she didn’t feel like getting up that early in the morning to get my daughter ready. I explained that I had rented a motor home and that we were stopping at a friend’s home in Nebraska for dinner later that day and would be late if we didn’t leave at our planned time. She didn’t care! I was told that she and my daughter were going to drive down to Chicago and would be back on Saturday afternoon and that I could pick my daughter up upon their return. Unfortunately, our daughter was used as a pawn in my ex-wife’s anger toward me. There was nothing I could do about it at the time. My daughter was so disappointed with her mother. Even at a young age, she knew what was going on. Avoid these types of situations. It only hurts your children in the long run.
Whatever you do, do not ask your children to take sides in your divorce! Leave them out of it! Let your kids be kids! Let me say that again, “Let your kids be kids!” Be open when you talk to your children about their feelings about who they are going to live with. Don’t use guilt to manipulate their feelings.
Another important element is keeping your word with your children. If you say you’re going to do something with them, then do it! Do not break your promises. This is one of the biggest complaints I hear when I counsel children of divorce. If you plan to pick up your children on a Saturday at 2:00 p.m. make sure you do and be on time! If you promise to buy your kids something, follow through with that promise.
For those of you who don’t have primary custody, keep in mind your responsibility for providing a home away from home. Make sure your children are involved in finding a place to live. Helping with the chores at home and running errands will give them a sense of normalcy. Avoiding being “Santa Claus” by always buying gifts or being the parent that never hands out discipline. It’s important to remain active in their lives and continue to do things that create new memories. Go to museums, ballgames and the library together. Help them find hobbies that promote growth in the sciences or art. Your children will love getting out of the house and doing some fun things with you!
In this series, I will help you examine the process of getting divorced. We’ll take a close look at what to expect and will share critical information you need to know. If you or your spouse is considering divorce, prior to making that final, life-changing decision, please call me. I can help you prepare for your divorce.
Are you experiencing a difficult time in your marriage and need help? Is your spouse avoiding talking with you about the problems in your marriage? Are you struggling with the execution and planning of your divorce? Would you like to learn communication tools that are helpful when talking with your spouse about repairing your marriage? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I can help you. Give me a call today!
Many of you have expressed an interest in talking with me about how to save your marriage, or how to end it. Having gone through the pain myself, I’d be glad to help. Click here to receive a free 30-minute appointment, I’m making my calendar available for you to schedule a free no obligation 30 minute appointment to see if divorce coaching or divorce counseling can help you. so I can help walk you through the process, step-by-step, whatever option you choose.
It won’t just go away by itself. Let me help you resolve one of the most painful times in your life, so you can start moving forward again. Make that your first step right now.
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