I want to write this morning about a relationship issue that deviates a little from what I normally talk about. This is not about relating to your spouse or significant other but about relating to your children. And more specifically, relating to and helping your children after you have gone through a divorce. So, for those of you who have never been divorced, read on and see if this might be something that you can pass on to someone who has – and has children.
Following a divorce, it is not uncommon for an individual to feel wounded, hurt, angry, bitter, and a variety of other emotions. It is also not uncommon to communicate those emotions to your kids. However, when we do that – we only make life harder for them. So, I want to suggest four ways you can engage your kids that are healthy and helpful. They will thank you years from now.
First, stay grounded by clarifying your own core values. It is important for you to stay focused on what you believe and not waffle and be persuaded to do something foolish.
Second, provide loving discipline. It is tempting to give in to your kids in a number of areas because of guilt you may feel about the divorce. Continue to provide loving limits.
Third, allow your children to grieve. Oftentimes, because of our own feelings of guilt, we just want to quickly make everyone ok. But they’re not. What they need is empathy, a listening ear, and the freedom to grieve. Let them talk and be there with a non-judgmental ear.
Finally, let them have their own relationship with the other parent. It is easy to want to alienate them. We aren’t necessarily aware of an intent to do that, but we are angry with our ex for how they have treated us and often we subconsciously want our kids to be angry too. Instead, encourage them to have an active healthy relationship (that we stay out of) with the other parent.
What steps do you need to take today to better support your children?