by Dr. Lesley Iwinski
No one plans for divorce to happen. Pain, sadness, anger, grief, loss, rejection and shame are involved.
Asking an adult to grow and heal from their parents’ divorce is a tall order. Asking a child who is experiencing the divorce of his parents to heal and grow is more than most children can handle.
Given that a child will be wounded by his parents’ divorce, no matter how amicable it is, what can a parent do to help heal that wound and to minimize further harm to the child?
How can parents give their children what they need to grow past one of the most difficult losses they will ever sustain?
You may find these ideas helpful:
– First, focus on your OWN healing and support. Care for yourself so you are able to care for your children.
– Make sure you have a friend, therapist, coach or a group that you see regularly to process your difficult emotions in a safe place.
– Connect heart-to-heart with your children regularly.
Reassure them that you will love them forever and that you will always be their mommy or daddy.
– Children who do better have parents who co-parent consistently and from the same page.
Look for common ground, or agree to attend a parenting class either together or separately.
– Never share your negative thoughts about your ex or your problems with your child. They can’t handle it.
– Speak well of your ex whenever you can. Dig deep if you must. At least be respectful.
– Take the high road. How your ex is behaving is not as important as how you behave.
You can’t control them, but you can provide what your child needs.
– Be kind, loving, warm and compassionate to yourself and your children.
– Be grateful for every small blessing and help your children see there is still goodness in the world.
– Listen to your children’s feelings. They need to know that you hear and understand their experience.
– Engage the help of a family therapist, especially if your children show pain through acting out.
That behavior is often their cry for help.
– Finally, trust in your ability to heal and grow, and your abilities as a parent.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your village for support and encouragement.
Dr. Lesley Iwinski is the mother of three grown children, a family physician and owner of Growing Peaceful Families, LLC.
She offers classes, workshops and seminars.
Info: (859) 333-3053 or www.growingpeacefulfamilies.org.