Separation is a tough subject when it comes to kids. Not only are you going through your own emotional rollercoaster, you are trying to balance their loves to make as little impact as possible. Our oldest is has been going through this for over decade now. Though her parents were never married, it is just as tough. Knowing how to ease the pain of separation to your for your family is a must.
Every family situation is different. For our family, our oldest has always been 50/50 custody. For us, this means one week at Mom’s and one week at Dad’s. This wasn’t always easy, but the best choice for our daughter to have both parents equally apart of her life.
Through love and compassion, we have made it work. Now in high school, she comes home to our home more so that she can participate in sports and to work around work schedules. If one parent or family has an activity they want her involved in, we do everything we can to make that work no matter whose week it is.
Coparenting isn’t easy, but it is the best thing for the children. Showing them that you can work together as a family unit (for us, that means all four parents) shows them the utmost love.
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to coparenting is to NEVER talk bad or negative about the other parents, ever. This means no matter what the situation is, or what the other parents have done, you stay positive. Always refer to the other parent with kindness, love, and positivity. Save the negative for when the kids are not around.
Today, our friend Cate from give us her tips for having a healthy divorce. Tips for how to ease the pain of Separation for your family. Remember, this is a lifelong journey for you and your children. There will be mistakes, but the most important thing is to love your children unconditionally and work together to make it work as a family!
Healthy Divorce: How to Ease the Pain of Separation for Your Family
When two people divorce, they are not the only ones experiencing the separation. Friends and family can also be stricken by the event, but the children will have it the worst. What was once a single household is now breaking in half, making it clear that the children will go one way or the other.
No matter the reasons for the divorce, the parents have to put aside their differences and put their children’s needs first. You have to make sure that the transition is as painless as possible and create a secure environment to shelter them from bickering and discussions. If you do it all correctly and with maximum effort to ensure the least emotional impact on your children, the divorce can be accepted more easily.
Here are some useful recommendations for how to handle the emotional confusion and prepare your children for the separation.
1. Let your children know you love them
The children often think that they’ve done something bad and that by fixing it they can stop the divorce. To avoid disappointment, sit down with your children and tell them how much you love them. If circumstances allow it, do this together with your ex.
Be very clear about the message you’re conveying and don’t show any open hostility towards your ex. This moment requires a calming and nurturing environment. Choose to spend this time in the place your children like and feel comfortable in, like the zoo or an ice cream shop.
If the other parent is usually absent from the children’s life, let them know that they’re still loveable. They shouldn’t feel as though it is their fault at any moment.
2. Have a Plan B
If your ex is unreliable, make a Plan B to cover for their not showing up. A playdate or any other special activity your children like will be a great distraction. Make arrangements with your ex as to how long you will wait for them to arrive, and if they don’t come, go your own way.
If your children want to say something about the matter, let them. Listen to them without interruption and scolding, and don’t voice judgement. The best way is to show them you understand how they feel and help them calm down.
3. Encourage communication with your children
Allow your children to express themselves. If they want to talk to the other parent about some disappointing circumstance, let them. However, older children will tend to replace the hurt with anger. So, before they talk to the other parent, you should have a conversation with your children.
Teach them how to communicate without lashing out or raising their voice. Encourage them to express their feelings and be truthful about how that attitude made them feel. If this is too embarrassing for the children, don’t force them. Suggest that they write a letter instead.
4. Be willing to compromise
The relationship you have with your ex is important. Even if you don’t want to stay in any social relations with them, at least try to communicate properly. For the sake of the children, you have to compromise and put aside any bitterness and negative emotions. This means that if your ex can’t come at the appointed time, you can offer an olive branch.
Suggest to change the visitation schedule so the other parent can make it and spend time with the children. “Of course, consistency is important, but some flexibility on your part can increase an ex’s ability to come through”, says David Knox, Ph.D., author of The Divorced Dad’s Survival Book: How to Stay Connected with Your Kids. If you can’t come to the solution by yourself, contact the local family lawyers for advice on the matter. Sometimes there are better legal remedies than people can think of.
5. Include other caring adults
Extended family members and friends can help you. Invite reliable and caring adults to participate in the children’s life. Being surrounded with so many people who love them will show them they’re loved and taken care of. But make sure that they don’t speak ill of your ex or judge how the children feel about the divorce or their other parent. Never fight with your ex, family members or friends in front of your children regarding the divorce and marriage.
The more positive role models children have, the greater the chances that they will develop into mature individuals. It’s not about giving them everything they want, but teaching them how to reasonably and calmly address stressful situations.
Children’s minds are delicate and more easily absorb negative situations interpreting them as their fault. That’s why they must be put in a protective bubble until they’re mature enough to understand what a divorce is. As well as to accept the situation as it is, without placing blame and forming angry feelings towards either of the parents.
Alicia Trautwein is an autism parenting coach living in Missouri. She is the creator behind The Mom Kind, a website dedicated to parenting neurodiverse families. She is one of the head creators behind the #WeLoeveMoms campaign and is also featured in the “Amazing Moms” coffee table book by Hogan Hilling & Dr. Elise Ho. She shares her expertise along with her experience in parenting children, both with and without autism.