Child-centered divorce is associated with fewer adverse effects of divorce on children. However, a child-centered divorce never just happens. It is not something you can tell your attorney you want and then just get back to the husband and wife issues. A child-centered divorce is challenging and not for the faint of heart. However if you and your soon to be former spouse have what it takes to meet the challenges, your children are likely to benefit immensely.
What is a “child-centered” divorce?
A divorce where parents skillfully, consciously, and conspicuously create an environment that supports their decision to place their children’s emotional and physical needs at the forefront of their minds when making life-altering decisions related to separation or divorce.
Do you have what it takes for a child centered divorce?
Take this quiz to find out.
Can you, amidst your own tumultuous and forever swelling feelings of fear, pain, and loss of divorce remain attuned to subtle changes in your children’s behavior?
If so, you may be able to address the challenges they are experiencing before those challenges become overwhelming. Child centered responses are easier to make when children are not completely overwhelmed by what is bothering them. Seeing the divorce and the changes resulting from divorce from the child’s perspective will help you to develop empathy for their experience. Stay tuned into your child’s well-being.
Amidst divorce and your family morphing ever further away from your hopes and dreams for what your family would be, can you see that what is most important about family will always exist?
By seeing that the essence of what you wanted for a family will always exist because the children of the family exist you will be better able to manage feelings of disappointment and loss. With these feelings managed, you will become aware of explicit and implicit ways to show your children how important and vital they are to that family, regardless of divorce. Together you will all see that a family has more to do with love and affection than appearances. With this vision you will support your children’s love and need for family even as your family is evolving into a form other than what you once expected it would be.
When your child throws a temper tantrum, becomes angry, and blames you for ruining their life can you refrain from taking their behavior personally?
It is not easy to refrain from taking words that are so hurtful personally but if you understand the cause of the child’s behavior you are likely to have the strength to do so. Realize that in many instances when children blame one parent or another for the divorce occurring their blaming is a way of coping and a defense against feeling overwhelmed by the many changes they are experiencing in the course of a short period. It is often not meant against the parent personally.
Knowing these dynamics, you will be supported in not taking a child’s outbursts or accusations personally and you will be able to acknowledge their right to feel angry, afraid, or frustrated. You will then have the necessary co-parenting strength to tell them how much you love them and how much you regret their hurt and pain.
Despite your own feelings of anger toward each other, you and your former spouse will find the strength to let the children know that deciding to divorce was a difficult decision for both parents but one you both feel is the best alternative for your family’s future happiness and well-being. In your heart you will know that your child’s expressions of frustration are not due to a lack of love for you as a parent. This knowledge gives you the strength to continue with ensuring the divorce is child-centered. In the child-centered divorce you are pursuing your children have the space, time, and patience to express their frustrations and you accept and acknowledge whatever they share with you is okay for them to feel.
When your child makes negative comments about home, school, what is for dinner, the activities you planned for vacation, and just about everything else, can you reinforce that they are safe and loved?
When you are in child-centered mode, you can more quickly access the knowledge that children make negative comments as expressions of distress rather than criticism. With this knowledge you will gain clarity that children’s negativity is a call to you for attention, recognition, and the emotional healing that you can provide. You will then reinforce to them that they are safe, loved, and not to blame for the divorce. You will be able to say honestly that although change can be challenging, you know everything will work out okay.
You may even continue as many family routine activities as possible on a day-to-day basis in order to help them adjust to those things that have to change. You find the strength for these routines despite the pain they may cause. With your mind-set in their child-centered environment, you experience less guilt which nourishes you further to expand your child-centered activities.
Knowing they feel better, You feel better!