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Our special guest Author Amy Bell shares some words of wisdom.
So, for whatever reasons, you and your partner have decided you don’t want to be together anymore and you want to know the best course of action for your kids.
Do you want to avoid having kids who are stressed, anxious, upset and conflicted?
Would you like your kids to feel as secure, supported and happy as possible during this time of transition?
Do you want to experience less stressful days, move on and settle into your new circumstances faster?
Divorce is an incredible opportunity to powerfully demonstrate particular beliefs about the world, how things work and what is possible to your children. What is it that you would like to demonstrate to your children? Do you want children who believe that when a marriage ends it is a painful experience, ? Do you want children who know that when life doesn’t go to plan you can adapt and move on to the next wonderful thing?
That human beings hurt each other and are controlled by their emotions or that human beings are supportive, flexible, adaptable, resilient and resourceful. How are you going about demonstrating that through your current behaviour and interactions with your ex, your children and your other family members and friends?
Find a way to continue to love your ex as the father of your children. This is the best thing you can do for your kids right now. He is their father and they love him. His relationship with them is just as important as yours is with them. Show respect for the bond between them. Show respect for your children and their feelings. If you diss their father it hurts them. You can go to a girlfriends place who you know you can trust to keep it between you and vent all you like. Make sure her kids are not there. You think you can get away with a few bad words about their father on the phone because your kids are watching tv? To one of the mums or teachers at school? You can’t. Kids pick up on everything. They see you. They hear you. And if it’s not your own kids it’ll be someone else’s that heard it from somewhere and when it gets back to your kids it hurts them. Besides, it won’t do you any favours either. Remember what you want to demonstrate to your children. Are you operating from this space?
Here’s an quick little exercise to play with: Replay either an interaction between you and someone else where you have talked about your ex or an interaction between you and your ex. Step back and see yourself there. See the interaction playing out between these two people. Notice what you are communicating both verbally and non verbally. Notice the tone in your voice, your physiology, muscle tension etc. What are you demonstrating to your kids and the world in your behaviour during these interactions?
During your initial conversations with your children set some frames for what they can expect during the days and weeks to come. Explain that there may be days when you are upset, stressed, etc and that’s ok. They’re all perfectly reasonable emotions and that even when you’re upset, you’re ok. This is temporary and it will pass. Explain that it’s ok for them to feel whatever they’re feeling too. Have some discussion around what is expected of everyone and how you can best go about supporting each other during this time.
And look, you will have your moments. It’s perfectly ok to let your kids know that you’re having a tough day, in fact I would encourage you to communicate this to your children when you do. Meaning makers that we are, the more open we can be about how we’re feeling leaves less room for other people to make up their own meanings about that. If we notice that someone is upset or angry, it is very easy to make that mean that we are to blame. Kids can make all kinds of assumptions, that it is something that they did to make you upset, or something their father did. When you explain that you are upset, they don’t need to know the details. Keep it chunked up, don’t burden them with your worries or make it about their father. “I’m adjusting to our new circumstances” , “I’m problem solving” “there are a lot of details to work out when people get divorced and I’m feeling overwhelmed” whatever it may be. And remind them that this is temporary. It won’t hurt to remind yourself of this either.
And here’s the good news, human beings ARE incredibly resilient and adaptable and each of us possess a wealth of internal resources that assist us in challenging times. How you approach this time of transition as a family is up to you.
This is some very general advice and I recognise and appreciate that every set of circumstances, every parent and every child are unique. I don’t believe in a one size fits all and my approach in my coaching work is very much tailored and customised to suit each individual client. If you would like some personalised advice or if there’s ever anything I can help you with, please feel free to get in touch with me any time.
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