If you plan on separating from a partner or divorcing him or her, you may want to say and do some things that will alleviate at least some of the stress that children will experience as a result of not having a parent around anymore.
One. Remind your children that they will see their mother or father again. If possible, give them photos of mom or dad, show pictures of new home, familiar faces, neighborhood, etc. Explain to them they are getting more of everything like two houses, two holiday celebrations, more toys etc.
Two. Ask about how they feel and encourage them to keep talking while you listen. Avoid the temptation to interrupt.
Three. Be firm when it comes to establishing rules and getting children to adhere to them. As much as you will want to be that nice, friendly, sweet parent, you also don't want to be used and abused by children either.
Four. Communicate with partner about issues related to the children such as: who will be babysitting them, what they are eating, school challenges, etc. Keep away from conversations that have nothing to do with children. It might seem difficult at first, but with practice and constant self-talk, you will find yourself not caring about your exes personal life or what he or she thinks about yours--unless of course what you both say/do affects the children.
Five. Move on! Don't let relatives, in-laws, and others dictate how you are suppose to live your life with or without your children. Some will talk about "If I were you...and you shouldn't let...and what about the kids..." If any of these phrases and more are followed by so-called advice that doesn't help you raise children, positively add to your relationship with an exe, or better your lifestyle, ignore it. If you have a faith, now might be a good time to consult your heavenly Father, because you will face opposition as you draw further away from your exe.
Six. Encourage your children to visit relatives (on both sides) and others who have been supportive while you were married and assisted you with children. If this is not possible, have children call or write family members. This way you are letting all parties know you are not turning your children against loved ones, but if you are shutting out your in-laws even when they haven't acted ill toward your children, you are becoming a problem rather than a solution. You never know when you might need these individuals, so keep the lines of communication open.
Nicholl McGuire is the author of When Mothers Cry and other books.
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