By Ligia M. Houben
Despite the pain, disappointment, and initial fear, many of these children end up having meaningful and healthy lives. The way the parents deal with their divorce will greatly influence the lives of their children. These are three essential tips you can do (if going through a divorce) that can help your children in this life transition.
When facing a difficult life transition, our emotions can take over and make us do or say things we may regret later. This is common reaction among people going through a divorce. However, it doesn’t need to be that way, especially if we have children.
For the most part, parents care for their children. They want them to grow up happy, able to deal with challenges, and be successful as adults. Nevertheless, when divorce strikes home, they may forget their intention and act on their instincts. What can these parents do if they love their children and want them to be happy despite a divorce?
7 Tips Loving Divorced Parents… Should Never Say to their Children:
1. YOUR FATHER OR MOTHER, IS A “#$###” (be creative and just imagine the words!)
The father may be upset and hurt with his spouse (or vice-versa). However, because he doesn’t want to contaminate his children with his hatred or disappointment. Especially saying “all women are like your mother” or “all men are like your father.” A loving parent knows their pain is theirs, and they do not need to bring the children into the drama.
2. IT IS YOUR FAULT!
When a child is acting out (which is common when living this transition), and the parent feels upset, they may say to the child, it is because of his or her behavior their spouse left. A divorce is not caused by the child’s behavior, and at times, children may feel responsible for the divorce. A loving parent makes sure never to blame their children for their divorce, as it may cause a huge trauma.
3. DO NOT CRY
When children face a divorce, they may also cry because they are grieving. Let’s keep in mind that a divorce is a loss, and just like adults, children grieve. They grieve being away from one of their parent; living in two houses; missing their bedroom, their friends, or their school. They may miss their routine and their stability. With divorce one encounters many changes, and it takes some time to adapt to the new situation. A loving parent re-assures their children they are loved and they are there to support them and protect them.
4. I DON’T KNOW HOW I WILL BE ABLE TO LIVE WITHOUT YOUR DAD (OR MOM)
When children feel their parents are insecure, they feel lost. Parents are their role models and the way we deal with difficult life transitions, will teach our children how to deal with difficulties. One thing is to admit it is painful and challenging, and the other is to show an inability to continue living without their spouse. Loving parents acknowledge their feelings at the same time that use their inner resource to embrace life with confidence, strength, and hope for a brighter future.
5. DON’T YOU EVER GET MARRIED
When one goes through a divorce, especially, if a betrayal was the cause, distrust is a common outcome. It is not uncommon to hear parents say to their children, “don’t get married” because they have lost faith in committing to a single person. The fact that unfortunately it happened to them doesn’t mean it will also happen to their children. A loving parent knows the messages we give to our children are powerful, and should not be based on hatred or frustration, but on love, and empowerment.
6. TELL ME WHO IS YOUR MOM OR DAD DATING
When a parent knows their “ex” is dating another person, they may feel jealous and curious to know how that person is. Because their children may spend time with them, they use them as a source of information, wanting to know to the last detail what they are doing and how the person is. This situation may create tension in the child’s life as they feel in the middle not wanting to hurt any of their parents. A loving parent understands that, despite their pain, their children shouldn’t go through this hurtful experience. On the contrary, loving parents focus on rebuilding their lives, instead of wasting energy on things that are not beneficial for them or their children.
7. LIFE IS UNFAIR
When you got married you had hopes and dreams. You expected your marriage to be forever. I understand you may feel it is unfair what has happened to you. However, although you may feel it is unfair you are going through a divorce and you didn’t choose this situation… you can still choose how to respond. If you feel life is unfair… that is the message you will project to your children. A loving parent wants their children to be happy and embrace life with joy and trust.
As you can see, the way you handle your divorce may have a great impact in the lives of your children. Be a loving parent, cherish your children, use your inner resources, and be an amazing role model and inspiration to others. Remember, as you transform your divorce and transform your life.
I have worked with many people facing a divorce, as it is a challenging life transition. I want you to know, you can do something about it. You are powerful, you are loving, you are a special person!