Your children will scream internally: “mum and dad, please stop arguing”
Divorce or separation is usually difficult. Reaching this point in a relationship, making this decision, is never to be taken lightly. More especially when there are children involved, but if it feels as though the relationship has come to completion, it may be inevitable. One thing we do know though, is that if our children had more of a voice, they would say this: “mum and dad please stop arguing!”
If we feel betrayed, angry or upset, we may discover that we are not in control of our emotions. There may be arguments in the home pre-separation, and these may continue post-separation. We should never underestimate the impact this has on the children of warring couples.
What behaviour are you modelling?
Difficult though it is, we need to ask ourselves what behaviour we are modelling for our children. Like it or not, painful situations do arise in life, and the way in which we handle these is informing our children’s own coping abilities and strategies. Are we modelling good problem solving skills or are we shouting, crying, and blaming?
Children struggle with loyalty and feel torn. They want to be loyal to mum and loyal to dad. Are we acting ‘broken’ following the actions of the other parent? Are we unconsciously making our children feel they need to support us? These are not things that children should be worrying about, these are adult worries. We should check our language and reassure the children that they were not part of the issue because they may feel that they are responsible. They may emulate our anger and hatred towards the ‘bad’ parent just to seem loyal to us, but inside they’re conflicted and this conflict causes pain and stress.
We must put our own needs and emotions aside when communicating to and around the children. Let’s remind ourselves that the child is part of mum and dad. They do not want to hear negative comments about the other parent. Our job is to protect the children from the anger and resentment, no matter how hard or painful. That’s our job as parents.
Express your pain elsewhere
We do need to express our pain or anger, and practise good self care, but we need to find a neutral third party to speak with. Never our children, even our adult children. We should keep them out of it. Always.
Let’s not forget that the children’s lives also change as a result of mum and dad splitting up. They too have to deal with it emotionally and psychologically. That’s enough for them to cope with so let’s not burden them further.
Children of relationship break ups can and do thrive, but it has very little to do with the children, and everything to do with how both parents handle it. Read more here.