Sometimes the worst events and circumstances can provide the best teachable moments for our children. Divorce is one of those. As stressful as this time may be for them, if parents model positive behavior, kids can learn a lot about how to handle conflict in a constructive manner, deal with negative emotions and work with people they may not see eye to eye with. These are all skills they will need as they move into adulthood.
Your kids have a front-row seat to one of the most difficult things their parents will likely experience. Are they going to watch you fall apart, stop taking care of yourself (or them) and lash out? Or are they going to see you put one foot in front of the other and go on with your life?
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should never succumb to an occasional candy bar, glass of wine, a few tears or a loss of temper. Coping can be exhausting. It’s OK for them to see that. Further, if you can’t do it alone and need to reach out to a therapist or support group, that can be a valuable lesson that they shouldn’t be afraid to seek help
Even if you’re not inclined to give in to anything your co-parent wants, let alone do something nice, these gestures can teach kids a lot about compassion. It’s important for them to see you putting their needs ahead of your own feelings toward their other parent. Besides, if you show some generosity toward your ex, he or she is more likely to return the favor.
This may be the most important lesson. If your kids can see their parents working together even when they may not have positive feelings toward each other, they learn that they don’t have to like everyone they interact with. Show them that you can be civil, fair and even kind to your ex. Refrain from showing or expressing your negative feelings about your ex in front of your kids.
If you’re having issues with your ex around your parenting plan or other issues that are interfering with your efforts to co-parent in a positive way, your family law attorney may be able to suggest some legal options that could help.
Source: Our Family Wizard, “What Will Your Divorce Teach Your Child?,” accessed Oct. 06, 2017