Shielding Your Kids From “The Heat” of Divorce
Studies have shown that it’s the ongoing hostilities between divorcing parents that really emotionally damage and traumatize children. So how do you protect your children’s emotional well-being if divorce matters are in the Red Zone, the two of you aren’t speaking, and you can’t even stand being in the same building as him/her?
You may ‘know’ you should smile and talk civilly and put on airs for the sake of the kids. But the truth is sometimes that’s a lot easier said than done – especially when every cell in your body goes to fire at the sight of him/her. Do you wonder/worry if your kids see through your facade?
As someone who has stood in these shoes, here are a few strategies I’ve implimented to safeguard my children’s well-being. And please, if anyone else has any other helpful pointers, please outline them in the comments below.
1. When issues are ‘hot’, make extra effort to talk highly of your ex when he/she ISN’T around. It can be easier to ‘pretend’ when he isn’t ten feet away. I personally try and mention my ex in a positive way at least once a day, whether it’s something he’s good at (ie: fixing things) or by encouraging the kids to ‘ask dad’ about something cause he’s more knowledgeable in a particular area. If you find it hard to talk nicely about him in the present, refer to incidents in the past. For example, tell anecdotes from when you were married and maybe some of the silly or funny things he did. Kids love to hear stories from our pasts, especially those that include them. Listen to your kids’ laughter and pay attention to their eyes and smiles on their faces – this is still heart-warming stuff, despite what may be transpiring in the present between the adults.
2. Wherever and whenever you see your ex, make the effort to stay ‘busy’ , ie: packing clothes, wiping noses, heck - read the newspaper if you have to. Just don’t stand there with a glazed-over angry look on your face, waiting till he’s finally gone. The kids’ are more likely to notice your hostility or superficial smile/voice if you’re standing there idle with your thoughts screaming in your head and oozing from your aura.
3. Tune into your kids and really allow yourself to be present with them during the interaction. Don’t waste your time monitoring your ex’s body language – he’s not the only person present; your kids are fluttering around too so stay tuned. Look at their innocent little eyes and facial expressions and ground yourself – THEY are the reason you CAN and WILL make this interaction grateful and warm. No matter WHAT is pounding inside of you, these beautiful little creatures are worth your efforts; so feel that in your skin and hold onto it. Empower yourself to be and act like the kind, loving, spiritual being and parent you really are.