Question: As we talk about separation and divorce, what can we do to keep our children from becoming upset?
Helping Your Children Through Your separation or Divorce Process
Divorce is difficult and can create feelings that are painful for your entire family. Children certainly worry about their own futures but can be just as concerned about Mom and Dad. Giving them the tools to navigate your separation or divorce, will allow them some comfort and show them that you are in control. Child-centered sperations or divorce focuses both parents on their responsibility to maintain their roles as mom and dad while separating as wife and husband.
Mediation is one such tool and can have an important role in the control you seek over your speration or divorce, including the parenting plan. As parents, you will be able to make the personal decisions about scheduling your child's time with each of you. While "family" will begin to take on a different meaning for each of you, making decisions together as parents can be reassuring to your children.
Edward Tyber, Helping Children Cope With Divorce, describes the impact of parental conflict as the most important factor in determining a child's long-term adjustment to divorce. Mediation allows you to work through conflict utilizing a child-centered approach. This approach can be the foundation for your "new" family going forward. It is important for kids to be kids even in times of divorce. The emotional roller coaster that the family is on needs to be understood and slowed down. Mediation helps develop an atmosphere where parents can divorce from each other while maintaining their status as responsible mom and dad.
While divorce/separation is a legal matter, it is also a grieving process for the entire family. A time of loss that needs specific attention especially in the first few years following the separation. Robert Emery,Ph.D, The Truth About Children and Divorce, describes the grief cycle of divorce as love, anger, and sadness. The child-centered approach reminds parents that it is not your child's responsibility to help you through your grieveing process. It is best to rely on family and friends for that. Robert Emery reminds us that it is your job to support your child through her/his grieving process and accept that it may be different than yours, your partners, or other siblings.
I enjoy discovering and writing about the newest ideas around relationship conflict. I find that my blogs are most often inspired by curiosity and questions. The curiosity is mine and it is inspired by questions from colleagues, clients, and readers. Here's a question I will talk about in my December blog: "How do I know if Mediation is best for us?" Write to me with your relationship conflict questions and help fuel my curiosity.