In a recent Huffington Post article, 12 Things Kids Think About Divorce But Are Too Afraid To Say, family therapist Tara Kennedy-Kline outlines what your kids probably want to tell you about the divorce, “but don't have the world experience to say directly.” She developed this list after counseling hundreds of divorcing families and observing the children's behavior. You can see the entire list in her article, but it really boils down to three basic rules your kids want you to follow and what your kids want to say about your divorce.
WHAT YOUR KIDS WANT TO SAY ABOUT YOUR DIVORCE: RESPECT AND ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR FEELINGS
“Quit telling me I'm ‘being dramatic' about what's happening.” Your kids have every reason to feel upset about the divorce. They're scared and might even be wondering when they'll make you mad enough to stop loving them, too, states Kennedy-Kline.
Try to include your kids in decisions around child custody and visitation, perhaps through family mediation. Sometimes what they prefer might actually be best for everyone. This can be facilitated by the use of a Child Specialist, or even taking the time to discuss your personal knowledge of the children's expressed feelings during the mediation session.
Let children have (and express) their thoughts and feelings about your new relationships, and expect that those feelings may not always be warm and fuzzy. Often that's a signal that your kids need quality time with just you.
WHAT YOUR KIDS WHAT TO SAY ABOUT YOUR DIVORCE: BE CIVIL TO AND ABOUT YOUR EX IN FRONT OF THEM
If they could find the words, your children might say, “Please stop talking badly about each other to me or in front of me; it just makes me disrespect you,” according to Kennedy-Kline.
Don't whine in front of your kids about how you got the worst of the post-divorce property division. They will think you care more about the material things than about the loss of their family. Try to admire the gifts your ex gives them rather than being jealous and insulting.
Accept that your ex may be better at teaching your kids something than you are. In your child's words, “When you allow me to learn from and value both of my parents, that teaches me to appreciate the gifts in others and to ask for help when I need it.”
WHAT YOUR KIDS WHAT TO SAY ABOUT YOUR DIVORCE: REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE ALWAYS THEIR PARENT
You might have stopped being married, advises Kennedy-Kline, but you have not stopped being parents.
This means being able to attend your children's celebrations or sports event and be civil to each other. You also need to continue to protect them from anyone or anything that would hurt them, possibly including the new person in your life.
Finally, if they could, your children would ask you, “Please get on the same page when it comes to values, rules and discipline,” states Kennedy-Kline. Letting them have free reign to spite your ex will only confuse and frustrate your children in the long run.
Divorce mediation with a qualified DuPage County Divorce Attorney can help you deal with many of these issues. Contact me to learn more about mediation and other services I offer and help shape what your kids want to say about your divorce.