Over the last three weeks I asked you to track the times and events when you made emotional investments in your child. You probably saw times where an idea you had didn’t pan out, and had to adjust and make changes. Or you thought you had a great idea and it ended up stressing your child instead of creating closeness. That’s all okay! Infact, it’s wonderful! By trying things you are learning about your child’s preferences and personality, and you are going to be able to make more effective investments!
So why should you be focusing on investing?
Divorce takes a whole lot of time, energy and effort; and more than once we have seen children come out much worse for the wear. More often than not, some of that trauma can be minimized and avoided all together by mindful parenting and intentional investing.
Children of every age need love, support, encouragement and safe boundaries. Now, how they experience and interpret them will change frequently, sometimes daily. Imagine for a moment that John is used to the emotional support of having one or both parents at every basketball game. But their marriage has begin to deteriorate and now only one at a time goes. But then one parent has to take up a new or different job, because of the separation so that parent isn’t available to come to games anymore. John just lost a form of support and show of love he values and depends on. If both parents aren’t mindful and aware enough to decide to replace that valuable investment with an equal investment in another area… they have just added a burden to the divorce that can easily be minimized.
Lets detail three common situations of divorce that have the greatest impact on youth and possibilities to minimize them.
- Disagreements and Resentment
- This is a HUGE one, and the fallout from it is massive! Every single day, youth get caught between fighting parents and are asked to make adult decisions for themselves that they can’t and shouldn’t have to handle. STOP THIS NOW. I could write an entire year worth of blog posts on the emotional trauma that results from children watching their parents argue, and then being asked to solve the problem for them. If you must have a heated arguement (I’m not talking about a rational discussion here, I’m talking about when things are nasty and feelings are hurt) absolutely do not do it around your kids, or where your kids could eaves drop; and no dumping on your kids later. They are not your emotional supporter, you are theirs. Their relationship with the other parent should not ever be influenced by things you say about the other party.
- Custodial Changes
- In most situations, one parent is going to end up leaving the current living situation. Imagine you had breakfast with someone you love everyday and then someone else decided you weren’t alowed to anymore. That’s exactly what is happening when you take one parent out of the living situation. The child is experiencing changes in their environment that they have often don’t understand. Both parents need to be aware of new times and places where they can invest in a new routine that will build trust and familiarity when an old routine is disrupted by separation or divorce. Let me be clear, this burden does not fall soely on the parent that leaves the current situation. Its is for both parents to do together. You may not love eachother, but that child is deserving of two adults who can put personal issues aside and work together to make this new version of your family work in favor of everyone!
- Parents returning to work
- 75% of children of divorced parents live with their mother’s and only about 17% of those are full time mom’s. In a fair number of circumstances, when a couple with children divorces, the mother that had previously stayed home is now faced with returning to the workforce. This marks a huge change in the lives of children envolved. Unfortunately this burden falls soley with the parent who is returning to work. You now have to decided when and where you are going to find time to invest in your child if you can no longer be there when they get home from school or go to after school events. It’s going to take more time, effort and creativity than before.
This is where part one and two will come in handy, if you already know your child well enough to know what they value and the kinds of investments that matter to them, you are one step ahead of the game. If you already have a regular habit of investing daily, and have a strong relationship with your child prior to dealing with the growing pains of divorce, you’re two steps ahead of the game.
Just don’t forget; Your children want, need and deserve your time and effort. I know it’s not easy, I know you’re tired and emotionally drained. But the positive benefits of being present and being intentional in your parenting will strengthen the parent-child relationship and prepare them to deal with challenges in healthy ways for the rest of thier lives.
Please visit our resource page for links to books that can give more details on co-parenting and helping children adjust to separation and divorce. If you have a topic you would like to see a blog post on, or questions about the above post, you can send an email to Megan at Support@DivorceNM.com
Megan, BS FCS
This post is also available in: Spanish