EDITOR’S NOTE: We are pleased to feature another article from Rosalind Sedacca. Rosalind is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She tends to write from a perspective on helping parents to help their kids through divorce, but the principles are generally applicable to non-parents working with children of divorce as well. Rosalind’s perspective will also be helpful when divorcing parents come to you seeking advice.
No one plans to get divorced. But more than one million children in the U.S. will experience its affects this year alone. Divorce has become a reality in our culture and innocent children are coping with the consequences every day.
The good news is that divorce need not wound and scar your children if you put their emotional and psychological needs first when making crucial decisions. It’s misguided parents – angry, resentful, hurt and mistrusting – who unintentionally set their children up for painful outcomes. These parents don’t understand that every decision they make regarding their divorce will affect the well-being of their children in countless ways. The emotional scars are not only harder to see, they’re also much harder to erase.
Here are five keys to helping your children move through and thrive after divorce.
1. Remind them this is not their fault.
Children tend to blame themselves for divorce, no matter how bad Mom and Dad’s relationship has been. The younger the child, the more likely this is so. Sit down together and talk to your children, emphasizing that they are in no way at fault. You can say something like: “Mom and Dad don’t agree about certain key issues and that has created conflict. Even when some of the issues are about you, it does not mean you are to blame. You are an innocent child who we both love. Sadly, Mom and Dad disagree about certain important issues — but not about our love for you. You are not in any way at fault.”
2. Focus on change — not on blame.