One way to help your child thrive through divorce is to keep your conversations about the other parent positive
What if the other parent has problems and safety is an issue?
Talk about the actions of the other parent. Anger management, addiction, and mental health issues. The other parent can love their children and need help. It is never the child’s fault and they need to have a plan. Your child’s job is to keep them safe and your job is to help keep them stay that way. If your child’s safety is an issue due to Excessive drinking, violence, mental health issues, seek help. Tell your child these behaviors are not ok. There is no excuse for abuse. During these trying times sometimes things get out of hand and your children needs to discuss ways they can handle the situation. What is the plan if they ever feel afraid? Have a list of neighbors to call. Have an emergency plan; create a bag with hidden money and numbers of people to call. Teach them how to call the police. Let them know it is ok to get help.
Only have talks with your children about things they can control like; school, friends, hobbies, feelings. If they are angry it is ok it is just as normal for kids to be angry as it is for parents to feel angry. Kids who are not showing emotions are often trying to help the parents by hiding them. Let them know it is ok and that anger is a stage of loss. It is what happens when basic human needs to feel loved, valued and powerful are not being met. Let them know that anger is just part of the reaction. Teach them how to take care of themselves by making a list of things to do that make them feel better so they do better. They need to know that the anger will pass and things will get better. It helps if they can see this change happening with their parents. It gives them hope and models how to recover from loss.
Ask yourself is the way I am talking with the other parent helpful or hurtful? If hurtful say, “The way you are talking to me is hurtful I don't want to fight I want to work on solutions. Repeat until it sinks in or say I have to go now and I will call you later when we are both calm.
If you are not able to speak to one another respectfully, use Our Family Wizard. It is an email program where you can communicate about schedules, changes and manage child support. The program is a way for the courts to monitor effective communication. Knowing this is a court record sometimes helps parents be civil.
Instead of pumping the child for information about the other parent commit to speaking directly or let it go. Sending messages through your children puts the burden on how they land on your child. Agree to talk directly and equip your child with a friendly signal to remind you in case you forget. “This sounds like A.P. Adult Problem”
Solving problems like custody issues, money issues, visitation need to be done as a business not to hurt the other parent or harm the child’s relationship with the other parent
Remember to always ask, “Is what I am thinking or doing helpful or hurtful?
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Susan Dockerill has ten years of teaching children in public, private, and military schools at home and abroad, plus 17 years teaching and mediating with parents and teachers. Susan has the expertise to speak frankly about marriage, divorce, children, and being responsible for living the life of your dreams.
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