27 Jun

4 Ways to Help Your Children During a Divorce

TIP #1:  Make the Children Your Priority

“As we go out into the world, we will face challenges and we’ll need both of you to help us through them. If we’re struggling, in need of help or you’re worried about us, we hope you will pick up the phone and let each other know. We get that this won’t be easy. At one time you loved each other enough to become parents. Please do your best to see the good in one another instead of always expecting the worst.”

A quote from an adult child of divorce

 

Research shows that helping others is a great way to get through a loss or stressful event. Transitions and change are normal. Divorce isn’t necessarily a life skill but going through a transition that comes with stress (like in a divorce) is.  Shift the focus and your energy onto them.

Talking about the divorce is important, especially with your children.

This means less or no talk about why the divorce happened and focusing more on the struggles each child is going through at that moment. Less drama and more focus on kids are good modeling and leads to helping the family move forward in a healthy way.

What the children come to the parent for help with may not really be what they want or need. It may be more about seeking parental support and making sure they won’t be abandoned. They may need help telling their story to others, problem solving, assistance with time management or scheduling changes, or handling missing a family member.

To see a quick outline of developmental tasks for children by age group, read Does Divorce Inevitably Damage Children? by Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D. on the Huffington Post. 

TIP #2: Create a Support System for Your Kids

One of the most important developmental tasks for children is social development. Part of this process is explaining what is happening and how to maneuver through relationships. The process of divorce can impact family members in a variety of ways. It can include the break-up of a family system, the loss of seeing or living with one parent regularly, or dealing with the stigma sometimes associated with divorce.

Providing support for children going through divorce can help them with the adjustment and changes happening. Others can play a vital role in needed support, such as family members, family friends, a church community, theirs peers or even a therapist. Not only do others provide a feeling of security and normalcy, they can also provide unconditional love and support.

About therapy: There doesn’t need to anything wrong with a child for them to be in therapy. Whether it’s a counselor at school or a therapist at a clinic or in private practice, therapy can provide an additional layer of support for family members.

TIP#3: Stick to Consistency and Routine as Much as Possible

This can include morning routines, school schedules, sports, social outings, attending church, family meals, holidays, going on vacations etc. Routines create a feeling of normalcy and familiarity for everyone. After school activities and hobbies help children gain their own sense of autonomy in the world and solidify their identity. Help the children develop their own hobbies and interests, to do at your home and at the other parent’s home.

TIP #4: Don’t Speak Badly or Gossip About the Other Parent

When we are hurting, it’s easy for us as adults to fire back with hurtful comments or actions. Children hear what parents are saying on the phone or to the adult in the other room. They often tune into what their parents are feeling, even if they don’t come right out and say it.

Model healthy communication and boundaries. Avoid blaming and negative talk about the other parent. Save personal feelings and negative thoughts for friends, therapist or a journal. If you find you can’t stop talking about it, try counseling. It’s a safe place to express yourself that won’t due unnecessary damage.

Communicate directly with your ex partner in a healthy way, not through the children or through others (unless mandated by the court). State your needs to them in a clear honest way. Use “I” statements. Try phrasing your needs in different ways, literally using different words. Keep accusations and blaming out of it, instead replace with compliments. Research shows that starting a conversation with a compliment or positive comment increases receptiveness in the other person. They will be more likely to hear what you are saying. If or when the communication starts to get heated, take a break. Revisit it when you are both calm and level headed. If things can’t get resolved, try mediation or communicating through a counselor.


References and Resources:

Books:

Something Gained: 7 Shifts to be Stronger, Smarter and Happier after a Divorce, by Deb Purdy.

Blog Posts:

The 18 Best Things You Can Do For Your Kids After Divorce by Brittany Wong on HuffingtonPost.com

How to Keep Yourself From Yelling at Kids Even When You are Hopping Mad by Sumitha Bhandarkar on AFineParent.com.

Four Things to Keep Stable with Children of Divorced Parents by Shannon Philpott on Mom.me.

Establish Post-Divorce Traditions on KeepYourChildSafe.org.

Helping children adjust to two homes after separation or divorce on RaisingChildren.net.au.

Why routines are so important for children of divorce from GabriellaDavis.com.

The importance of safe, stable and nurturing environments for young children by Dr. Rachel Wood on TheOlympian.com.

8 Things Adult Children of Divorce Desperately Want You to Know by Christina McGhee on DivorceAndChildren.com.

Find information about ending a marriage or registered domestic partnership see the Divorce or Separation resources page on the California Courts website.

Divorce Etiquette 101: What to Say on WeVorce.com.

Tips on Communicating With Your Spouse During a Divorce by Joseph Pandolfi, Retired Judge on Lawyers.com

Find resources on Coping in Divorce Support on About.com.

4 Tips for Effective Communication During Divorce from OutofCourtSolutions.com.

5 Ways for Better Communication During a Divorce by Nicholas Baker on FamilyLawRights.net.

 

20 Jun

3 Important Ways to Help Yourself Through A Divorce

TIP #1: PLAN HOW YOU WILL TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT

It’s going to come up in conversation. Take the opportunity to create healthy boundaries from the start. Preparing for these conversations can help manage the emotions that might come with it and prepare you for the responses of others. Other’s often have strong opinions about divorce with unsolicited advice to go with it. And it’s not always helpful or positive stuff.

First, decide who needs to know. As life changing an event as it might be, some people (like co-workers) may not need to know. It’s good to ask: who you would like to tell and why?

Second, decide what kind of impression you want to leave with that person you’re going to talk to. It sounds self-centered, but it’s actually fact. It takes 7 seconds to make an impression, so decide what you want that other person to remember. Facts people won’t necessarily remember, but how a person made them feel is something that will stay. Experts recommend saving the personal emotions and intimate details for those closest, a therapist or a journal. It might not matter if it’s a best friend or family member, because they’ve already seen you at your best and your worst. But if, for example, you decide to tell your boss, what do you want him/her to remember, the facts and how well you are handling it, or how upset you were about the whole thing?

Third, ask for you what you need. The process of divorcing can be stressful. It’s an important life change and people often want to help but don’t necessarily know how. Communicate what is needed, whether it’s just hanging out for a change of pace, or getting added support for the children. Don’t be afraid to at least ask.

For more information about creating healthy boundaries, check out this article: This Is What It Really Means To Have Healthy Boundaries by Kelly Coffey on MindBodyGreen.com.

TIP #2: REBUILD SELF-ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE!

 The act of divorce isn’t exactly a positive self-esteem building experience. This process could easily hit hard. It often brings up questions of confidence and how we see ourselves. It can leave someone feeling bad, like they failed at something. Or they might become riddled with guilt, especially when they see how it is impacting their children. But not to worry, divorce is much more common now a days. And kids are very resilient. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or fun, but what is does mean is that the person asking about it probably has either been through it or knows someone who went through something similar. And research shows that the 3 years following a divorce is the most impactful time for children to heal and recover, so don’t give up hope!

Staying in the present moment and looking to the possibilities in the future is a great way move everyone forward and keep the mind clear and emotions out of the drama.  Set a goal in the future for yourself. Practice positive self-talk daily, especially positive affirmations. It might be thoughts like “I am taking action and making necessary changes in my life right now to better myself”. Or, “I am managing each situation as it comes up”. Sometimes, it’s “This is stressful and I am handling this really well!” Or it might be “this is tough right now, but it will pass, I am strong and resilient and can get through this!”

Check out the blog post Meditation Made Easy or present, in-the-moment exercises article.

Dr Pamela Blair talks about Recovering Your Self-Esteem in this article about self-esteem building.

And here on ReachOut.com find out more Steps to improve self-esteem.

TIP #3: MANAGE THE ANGER

Traditionally, separation is when there is the highest level of anger and potential violence between partners. Unmanaged anger comes in many shapes and forms including words and actions, or a lack thereof. It usually presents as passive (implied, indirect or insinuated to create or maintain conflict) or aggressive (directly threatening or physically hostile). And it can be VERY destructive.  For example, when a parent or partner posts negative comments about their ex on Facebook. Or someone sends out an insult in a group text. Or a parent makes negative comments directly to the kids or another adult in ear shot range of the children. Actions like these reflect poor boundaries. Children pick up on this and it often makes them feel conflicted. Blaming is a common destructive pattern also. It’s good to remember that as intense as those emotions are in that moment, they will pass. And once something is said, it’s out there and can’t be taken back. Ongoing negative comments, blaming and criticism can have long-term negative psychological effects on everyone, especially children. They actually do not rebound as easily from this kind of behavior. Blaming and negative criticism are also polarizing for others who often feel conflicted between their loyalties and what they should do. And then it becomes one more thing that needs to be resolved. The same goes for threats to others or acts of physical violence. They can have far more serious long-term effects.  Practicing this from an emotional intelligence perspective means managing the emotions before they take over.

The best way to manage anger is to develop awareness around it and learn specific techniques to help manage the emotions. Steps like:

  1. Identify the comments or actions of others that lead to feelings of anger or rage. Take note of the person or situations that create strong feelings, like fear or feelings of powerlessness. Notice how angry you get and how you respond. Then take not how long it took to calm down.
  2. Use strategies to calm yourself down before the anger turns into regretful words or actions. A “trigger” might be discussing a certain topic with an ex-partner or seeing repeated behavior that is perceived as threatening. Once this happens, take action to manage the anger. This could be the act of stopping the conversation in that moment and taking a break for a few minutes to get a handle on the intense feelings.
  3. Revisit the conversation when everyone is calm and level headed.
  4. Try an anger Journal: An anger journal is a great way to start creating that awareness. Questions include recording how many times a person gets angry in a day, what happened leading up to a change in emotions, and recording how the person responded when the anger took over.
  5. Utilize techniques even after the anger hits. Breathing techniques area common way address things immediately. (check out Youtube.com or try an app on your phone). And time-outs are great ways to handle “in-the-moment” emotions. So is exercise. It’s ok to put a stop to what ever is escalating and switch gears for a bit. Meditation and yoga are great practices to incorporate, especially before a stressful meeting. Studies show that people think more logically and make better decisions when their minds and bodies are in a resting state, not a raging state. Breathing exercises are the fastest and easiest way to calm down. Too much anger becomes self-defeating. Avoid mean or threatening language or physical violence. They are psychologically very harmful to children. Practicing positive self-talk, is another tool that helps decrease anger. Learning to stay calm and express emotions in a healthy way is a great way to model emotions for children and decrease unnecessary stress. If it becomes an ongoing problem, talking to a specialist, like a counselor or psychiatrist can be very beneficial.

A note about exercise:  a good amount of cardio exercise can change the balance of serotonin, endorphins and other hormones to help balance the mind and body.  Like the mind, the body can be changed too. This is one area many people utilize.



References and Resources:

Books –

From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life, A Woman’s Journey Through Divorce by Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC.

Something Gained: 7 Shifts to be Stronger, Smarter and Happier after a Divorce, by Deb Purdy.

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Blog Posts –

How to Tell Others You’re Getting Divorced from PsychologyToday.com

Divorce Etiquette 101: What to Say from WeVorce.com.

Tips on Communicating With Your Spouse During a Divorce from Family-Law.Lawyers.com.

Facing a Tough Divorce Transition? Create Positive Moments from PsychologyToday.com.

Working it out from AJNovickGroup.com.

Types of Anger from LoveToKnow.com.

4 Tips for Effective Communication During Divorce from OutOfCourtSolutions.com.

5 Ways for Better Communication During a Divorce from FamilyLawRights.net.

Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper from MayoClinic.org.

The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature from ScienceDirect.com.

 

Copyright 2019 Etain Services.