Monday, May 25, 2015

Making divorce easy on children

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If we, the adults, cannot cope with divorce, how can we expect our children to?
Divorce is unpleasant, emotional and hurtful.

The problem is, we sometimes forget that we aren’t the only ones experiencing this pain. Often our children suffer an unnecessary degree of hurt as a result of our incompatibility with our chosen partner. At times, we seem to be so involved in our own emotions that we forget how our children feel. If we, the adults, cannot cope with divorce, how can we expect our children to?

It is important to adopt some coping skills, stay calm, and take the child into consideration in every situation.

It helps to use the “stop- think-act technique” to acquire the best outcome of each situation and not just allow our emotions to blindly guide us.

Children might look resilient and it might seem that they don’t understand what is going on. However, they can sense that there is something wrong and react to our emotions and behaviours.
Some tips on how to help you and your toddlers through the process:
Toddlers need consistency. This is not the time to drag them from house to house. If at all possible, they should stay in familiar surroundings and the non-custodial parent can visit there.
At this age, although they have a better understanding than infants, there is much they do not understand. They can comprehend that one parent has left the home, but not understand why.
Their concept of time is also arbitrary. Your child may ask you when they are going to see their daddy, or why mommy isn’t here anymore.
No matter how many times you have to give them the answers, don’t get frustrated, as their world is very confusing at this time.
If you have to argue or “debate passionately”, make sure to do it in a way that doesn’t cause your child undue fear or concern.
Remember, you are the adults in this situation and you have a responsibility to your child, to reduce as much harm as this separation is causing, as possible.
Toddlers often test the boundaries by saying “No” to adults or test limits by hitting or throwing. This behaviour and acting out can increase during the divorce process as a result of confused boundaries and definitions in the family. Toddlers need clear, consistent rules, enforced in a loving way.
Toddlers don’t have a very developed sense of empathy and tend to be concerned primarily with how their needs will be met. In the event of divorce, their sense of security becomes more self-oriented and their concern is about whether or not they will be secure, if they will be loved and nourished.
As toddlers become more aware of their own feelings, they learn to express them through words and play. As tensions increase in the household, they may become more reactive. Strong feelings are hard for them to manage and moderate.
Let them know that its okay to feel, but remember to help them manage the intensity by proper displays of your own emotional state, as well as appropriate levels of affection and understanding towards your child.
It is important to be clear how you are going to tell your child about the divorce. Here are some tips

* Both parents should be present to tell the children, with the main message being that the child is still your priority.
* The love for the child will never change.
* You will still have plenty of time for the child – if not more.
* Telling your child about the break-up should be a very short conversation.
* Practice what you are going to say, before saying the wrong things that can hurt one for ever.
* Never disparage the other parent, because it makes your child feel guilty about loving them.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

10 Things No One Tells You About Divorce


Not all divorce advice is created equal. For every good tip you receive from someone (don't use your attorney as your therapist, keep those rants about your ex off Facebook), there are just as many unhelpful comments: "Don't get mad, get everything!" Just no.

The best source for advice you can actually use are divorc├ęs themselves. Below, 10 HuffPost bloggers and readers share the one tip they wish someone had given them during the divorce process.

1. Moving on is a marathon, not a sprint.
"The difference is, a marathoner trains for hours before the big race. Divorce strikes most of us unexpectedly with no training on how to get through it. Take things day by day and one step at a time until you find solid footing and each step doesn't feel like you're walking on quicksand. And realize that emotions shouldn’t be suppressed. As a man, I was raised in an environment where emotions weren't to be spoken of -- divorce taught me the opposite." -Vidal Cisneros Jr.
2. Divorce feels a bit like death (without all the casseroles delivered to your door.)
"Losing your ex -- and your ex's family -- is almost like a death. You need to mourn the loss of them and understand that your ex's family will probably stand by him or her in spite of any wrongdoings." -Jessi Ann Bigler 

3. Post-split life is kind of boring.
"The one thing nobody warns you about is the most unexpected thing about divorce: boredom. The divorce process is so full of drama -- from lawyers telling you how broke you’re going to be to the unhappily married dads at your kids’ school drooling as they ask what it’s like to be single again -- that you start expecting every day to be as eventful as a Shonda Rhimes series. But trust me, it’s not. Maybe there’s some decent histrionics in the initial months of separation, but after that, life settles into a menial routine not that different from when you were married. You rush to get your kids to school on time. You figure out how to pay the bills. You fall asleep watching Netflix on Friday nights because you’re too worn out to go out. It’s less like the tear-jerking Lifetime movie you expected it to be and more like, say, a minivan commercial." -Craig Tomashoff

4. There’s no shame in getting divorced.
"Why didn't someone tell me there’s no shame in getting divorced? It can be a loving and positive decision for you and your spouse. In American culture, we shame people who divorce. We view them as are failures, as lazy, as immoral. Accordingly, the only way to avoid the shame of divorce is to fight, to blame, to win, to prove it was not your fault. By making divorce a shameful thing, we guarantee nasty combative divorces. The damage done is incalculable. We need to create new stories about what divorce means. Someone recently said on Twitter, 'My marriage didn’t fail, I simply completed it.' I wish someone had told me there’s no reason to feel ashamed just because you need to create something new." -Mark Greene

5. A financial advisor is just as important as an attorney.
"I wish someone had pulled me aside and told me to hire a financial advisor. Divorce can leave you in pretty dire straits without the right information and the truth is, divorce proceedings are primarily about money." -Beth Cone Kramer

6. There is no "right" way to be divorced.
"People couldn’t understand why I was still hurting a year later. Why I had trouble trusting men enough to start dating again. Why, five years later, I’d be having a perfectly great day and then *boom* a little jolt from the past would bring everything back to the surface. We all have our own timelines. Some bounce back immediately, ready to take on this new life with lustful enthusiasm. Some retreat into a Greta Garbo/hermit mode and just want to be left alone for a while. I wish someone had told me that it’s OK to take as long as you need. I often felt as though I was scrambling to meet some make-believe deadline: Time to date! Time to remarry! It would have been good to know that there is no 'right' way to be divorced." -Jennifer Ball 

7. It can turn ugly. Really ugly.
"I didn't realize divorce could be so downright cataclysmic. Sure, you hear all the horror stories, but you think you and your soon-to-be ex are above all that. Guess what? You're not. There's something about the complex combination of bloodsucking lawyers, wars of words and mental anguish that causes you to channel the dark side with a vengeance that would make Darth Vader proud. At some point, you experience every negative emotion under the sun. For the average person, this means stratospheric levels of rage, spite and anger coupled with ample amounts of loneliness, depression and despair. Even if you're so delighted to be out of the relationship you could do cartwheels, the process of getting to the other side is, at times, akin to undergoing an anesthesia-free root canal." -Austin Blood

8. You might second-guess your decision.
"Even if you're certain of your decision when you split, you might not be a year from now. When your ex moves on, it will be hard. You may feel jealous of the new person, even if you know you were miserable in your marriage. You may wonder if your kids would be better off if you had stayed in a two-parent household. You could start second guessing the divorce. You look back with rose-colored glasses, remembering the good times and glossing over the bad. But really, no marriage is all good or all bad. There was sickness and there was health. You have to do whatever you can to keep a realistic perspective post-split." -Kim Caloca

9. Your family and friends may react in unexpected ways.
"I was the first person in my family and friends to get a divorce. I had to figure out a lot on my own. I wish someone had told me that my grandparents would not understand and treat me like the black sheep of the family. Or that the hypocrites who never said a word about how they felt about my ex would finally speak their truth and tell me how they never thought he was good for me. I wish someone had told me that my happily married friends would treat me like my failed marriage was contagious and that I would lose friends because I was divorced." -Kim Tanis 

10. Moving on is a choice.
"When the shock and awe has passed, when you've forgiven the betrayal, you have a choice: To stay cocooned and venomous or to look on your divorce as a lesson. And to then make it work for the sake of your children. It's not always easy, but it's always necessary. I am happier and more peaceful as a result." -Ellen Watson Cady 


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