A friend of mine told me that after her divorce her son told her he was all right with the divorce. It was the arguing BEFORE the divorce really upset him. My friend had always been very careful never to argue with her spouse in front of the children. Her and her ex never had knock down drag out fights. So she was shocked that her son and even been aware of all the tension in the home. But children see and hear more than we realize.
One of the benefits of going through a divorce is you can take control of the atmosphere in your home and create a peaceful environment. No more tension and arguing.
I’m not saying this is going to be easy. Everyone’s emotions are running high. The kids miss seeing their parent every day and the transition is hard for each member of the family.
Here are a few suggestions for creating a peaceful atmosphere I’ve compiled from the men and women I’ve talked to over the years.
Keep your schedule as normal as possible. Don’t change bedtimes or dinner times. You don’t want your home to fall into chaos. That will leave your children even more confused about what is going on in their home. They need to know that everyday life will continue.
Don’t talk badly about your ex in front of the children or on the phone when your children are in earshot. They may not hear when you ask them to take out the trash, but they will hear when you call their parent a cheating, lying ass. Remember, your ex is ½ of their parents. It’s WHO they are. When you talk bad about your ex, you’re talking bad about them!
When your ex comes over to pick up the kids keep the conversation as short as possible if you or your ex are still feeling confrontational. If you need to hash out visitation rights or child support issues do it with your lawyers or mediators present and at their office. Don’t discuss hot topics in your home where you’ll both become emotional and raise your voices in front of your children.
Don’t try to pump your children for information. When they return from their weekend with their dad you can ask if they had a good time and maybe even where they went. But don’t push them for information just to satisfy your curiosity. If you’re concerned about their safety let them talk with a professional counselor.
There are times when you’ll need to cry your eyes out. Try to do this when your children are on play dates with their friends or with your ex . I know it’s hard and I’m not saying to pretend you’re happy when you’re not. But try to save your meltdowns for when your children are out of the house.
Don’t rely on drugs or alcohol to numb your pain. Your children need a fully functioning parent during this time. They don’t need to hear you slurring your words or see you stumbling through the house.
Assign your children specific, age appropriate tasks to do around the house. Though they may complain, in the end, they’ll learn life skills they need to know for later in life. They’ll feel a sense of pride about helping out, even though they’ll never admit it to you. Plus, you’re going to need the help. These can be as simple as loading or unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, doing a load of laundry, or learning basic cooking skills. Your son’s future wife will thank you for this as will your son when he realizes he doesn’t have to starve once he’s out on his own.
Keep your home filled with light. Open drapes and let the sun shine in. Resist the urge to create your personal cave to hide away from the world. Nothing is more depressing than a dark, dreary home.
Play some music. This can be calm new age music, or upbeat tunes that make you want to dance. Anything that makes you and your children feel calmer or happier.
Let them have friends over. Though you may prefer to shut down your social life, don’t force them to, as well. They need their friends to help them through this time.
Listen when they want to talk. Don’t minimize their feelings.
Please seek professional counseling for you and your children if needed.
Spend as much time as you can with your children, playing games, watching movies together, reading books, or coloring. When it feels the walls are closing in then go for a walk, go to the library, the park or the zoo. Go get ice cream.
You will get through this time and so will your children. The more you believe that the more your children will start to believe it as well.
You can do this!