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Divorce and Kids - What Children Need from Parents

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Is your divorce affecting your child? Does your child witness your anger and frustration with your 'ex'? Would you like to decrease the friction your child feels and increase the peace?

After my parents divorced my dad told me, "It's just like a woman. When a man finally puts some money aside, his wife wants half and gets a divorce." Dad blamed my mother but not himself. He forgot I was female and he wanted me to take his side. He didn't consider that I loved my mother too.

Remember that half your child's genes come from the other parent. This creates a special bond between your child and your "ex." When you put down your 'ex', your child feels put down too.

Avoid talking hatefully about your 'ex' because it:

  • Encourages your child to support other parent.
  • Increases your child's contempt for the things you say.
  • Promotes your child's disrespect for you.

Avoid trying to get your childto take your side because it:

  • Causes your child to fight your attempts.
  • Puts your child in the painful middle.
  • Encourages your child to take your "ex's" side.

Avoid fighting with your "ex" in front of your child because it:

  • Fuels your child's anger.
  • Causes your child's pain to deepen.
  • Increases your child's insecurity and loneliness.

To decrease your child's pain from the divorce:

  • Hold your tongue in front of your child.
  • See things from your child's viewpoint.
  • Share your pain with a counselor or a wise and trusted friend.

As a divorced parent, your child needs you to:

  • Speak respectfully about your 'ex' or not at all.
  • Keep your child out of the middle.
  • Avoid fighting in front of your child.

If you do, you'll decrease the friction and increase the peace. You'll earn your child's respect. You'll earn your child's love. What's more, by focusing on the emotional needs of your child, you'll be building character in yourself.

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