Guest blog by E. R. Reid
Divorce. I have been there and done that, along with 19 million other adults in this country. Although it has lost some of its stigma over the years, divorce hasn't lost any of its heartache, especially for our children. As a divorced parent, nothing is more heart breaking than watching the impact of divorce on your children. They are usually the last to know and the most affected.
Many professionals disagree about the impact divorce has on children. Some say they are resilient enough to become successful adults in spite of divorce. Others say divorce will cause long-term damage that will carry over into adulthood. But almost everyone agrees that how well parents handle themselves and their children during the divorce transition can decrease the damage and increase the chances that the children will form their own successful relationships in the future.
AFTER D-DAY -WHAT'S A PARENT TO DO?
So, the question is, "after the divorce, what can we, as concerned parents, do to provide our children the best possible roadmap towards becoming highly productive citizens and adults?" As a professional corporate strategist, my success comes from knowing how to put myself in my client's position so I can see issues from their perspective. As a parent, my great awakening came when I realized I needed to do the same thing for my children. The lessons I learned and suggestions I offer are derived from seeing divorce from a child's point of view.
BAG THE BITTERNESS SO YOU CAN THRIVE!
One of the most important things you can do to help your children, and yourself is to bag the bitterness! Focus on taking away helpful lessons from your experience. Then, use this new knowledge to become better. Despite the reasons you divorced, your mental attitude is critical to not only surviving, but thriving as a family. If you have the right mindset, then you can feel confident that you and your children will be all right. Take it one day at a time. For every problem there is a solution. Don't try to tackle everything at once.
You have to move quickly, though, towards healing and away from bitterness, anger and depression. It's like the instructions we get on the airplane for using the oxygen masks. If you are traveling with a minor, put yours on first, then help the child secure hers. As parents, we don't have the "luxury" of wallowing in negative emotions and behavior because the impact of such behavior hurts our children.
YOUR CHILD IS WATCHING AND LISTENING!
My children are like little sponges, they absorb everything especially when it comes to what comes out of me! One of the biggest mistakes a divorced parent can do is to tear down the ex-spouse in front of the children. This is hard not to do, because it makes us feel better if we can play the "blame game" and point to someone else's faults. For your children's sake be careful and be quiet. Remember it is painful for them to hear anyone talk badly about Mom or Dad.
WORK IT OUT OR WORK TOGETHER!
Our children learn culture, character and esteem from us. They take cues about what is acceptable from what we do not necessarily from what we say. The way you handle yourself and your relationship with your former spouse will be the way your children handle other complex issues and relationships.
Remember your children may face difficult relationships, too. You can teach them by example how to handle, discuss and reach solutions with someone whom they do not agree. Work to find common ground. Sometimes you will have to bend more than you want to but it may bring resolution and be better for the children.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND PRAY
Avoid name-callers, doomsayers, and negative people because they will bring you down! Look for and develop friendships with others who are positive, want to move forward, and are encouraging. Your stability and outlook sets the tone for your child's life. Without overlooking the needs of your children, take care of yourself spiritually, mentally and physically. Then you will be in a better position to ensure your child will learn how to do the same.