Whether you have a tiny baby at home or three rambunctious, semiautonomous teenagers roaming the house, you need systems to parent effectively during your divorce. A single page is way too small a space to discuss the ins and outs of this challenge – to address the possible strategies and tactics you could use. But here are a few outside resources that can help you address some of the challenges ahead:
- Four Ways to Help Your Teenage Daughter Cope With Divorce — http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-gaspard-msw-licsw/4-ways-to-help-your-teena_b_3241284.html
- The Top 5 Mistakes Divorced Parents Make — http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/top-5-mistakes-divorced-parents-make
- Guide to What Children Understand About Divorce — http://www.parents.com/parenting/divorce/coping/what-children-understand-about-divorce/
- 11 Rules for Helping Your Child Deal With Divorce — http://www.parents.com/parenting/divorce/coping/helping-child-deal-with-divorce/
- Dealing With Divorce: 7 Tips to Protect Your Kids — http://www.aaets.org/article115.htm
Just remember that you are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings: Not your children’s, not your spouse’s, not your family’s. You can only control your own habits, behaviors and emotional reactions. If your teenager screams I hate you, mom, for divorcing dad! You can neither deny her emotion, nor make it all better. But you can control how you react. Strive to do so mindfully. Forgive yourself for your trespasses — you are going through a hard time — and strive for as much empathy as you can access. Be an active listener. Pay attention to what your kids are genuinely needing and feeling.
For instance, if your daughter screams I hate you, mom! instead of saying things like No, you don’t! or I’m so sorry about what I’ve done to you! or You’re crushing me with that remark! consider just reflecting her experience back to her: I get the sense that the divorce process is incredibly stressful for you right now, and you feel like you hate me. In other words, rather than respond with guilt or shame, reflect what you see and what you think the other person is going through. This simple process can be surprisingly healing.