Clinging to Core Values to Save Yourself During Divorce
Identifying and Living by Your Core Values
It doesn’t take long to realize that your children are watching everything you do. The words they use echo your words. Their expressions often mirror yours. The way they respond to frustration, sadness and joy are all colored from a palate you created—and likely use yourself. Our children are watching and learning from us whether it’s the words we use when we stub our toe to how we respond to a traffic jam, or how we talk to and about our spouses.
The same, of course, is true for how we behave during a divorce. Our children are watching and our behavior—as well as our words—will determine what they believe about divorce.
This week my guest is Dr. Mark Banschick, child psychologist with training from Georgetown University and New York Presbyterian Hospitals, expert witness in custody disputes, author of The Intelligent Divorce: Taking Care of Your Children, and writer for Psychology Today. He has been featured on the CBS Early Show and quoted in The New York Times, CNN and USA Today. He recently launched a comprehensive online course, Intelligent Divorced Parenting to help parents deal more effectively with divorce even when confronted with a difficult former spouse.
Always Watching, Always Learning
Some of the negative mental and physical side effects of divorce that children suffer can be traced directly back to the way their parents behave during and after a divorce. Aggressive behavior on the playground? Perhaps they’ve heard their parents fighting. Isolation and depression? They may not be getting asked questions about their feelings at home. The good news is that this lesson holds true for the other side of the coin, too. Seeing a parent model civil behavior, watching parents handle shared custody without acrimony, screaming or bitterness can teach children that divorce isn’t the end of the world. It’s simply a shift in relationships.
Our Core Values
It’s important to remember that no matter what you are going through, your core values don’t change. You—with your strong center with its own values—don’t become an entirely different person. You can continue to practice your religion, your hobbies, your job. You can take comfort in the idea that what you like about yourself—who you are—doesn’t change just because you temporarily feel afraid or anxious. We can prove to our children—and ourselves—that change is possible without it being nuclear.
Doing What’s Right for the Future
Shifting your perspective about how much—or little—divorce will truly change you can help you and your family keep a more positive outlook about divorce. If you can still be you after the divorce, well, then, “divorce” loses a lot of its power. Setting boundaries is about knowing who you are and what you will allow in your life. And imparting this to our children is valuable. It makes for a less traumatic experience.
This series with Dr. Banschick is more than just a review of an expert’s tips. In many ways, it will be a guide to how you can successfully navigate divorce with children in the kindest and most productive way.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.