26 May How to make all the difference (Day of the Divorced Child)
Today it is the day of the divorced child, a good day to put ourselves in the shoes of children with divorcing or divorced parents or children who are sensing that a divorce might be upcoming. Through my daughter’s stories of children in her class I became aware that children kept silent about the divorce and some actually kept it a secret. It became apparent to me how isolated a child can feel in their situation. Living under the assumption that they are the only ones going through this and maybe even feeling it is their fault his or her parents are getting divorced. I stimulated my daughter to show her friends that she is there for them and willing to listen. There are also books and programs like Kies https://kiesvoorhetkind.nl/ which provide a safe environment for children to connect and share their experience.
The parents can also make a big difference for their children by providing space for the children to love both their parents and be loved, to be loyal to both of them without choosing and by showing them they will take care of their own emotions and issues and will make good parenting agreements to provide the clear structure and space their children need. It can help if the parent can listen in a relaxed way to stories when the children return from staying with the other parent. To step back a little bit and observe yourself, to check if you are really operating out of this true wish to be the best parent or if you are reactive (to your ex, to your past, to your triggered emotions) is challenging and can be very confronting. But is not impossible.
All parents who come to our office want to be good parents. This is a primal wish and need of people who have put a child on the planet. They all voice that their number 1 priority is the welfare of the children and a good parenting plan. This, however, is not specific enough and needs to be explored and translated into real agreements and resolutions with yourself and each other to actually transform these beautiful words into a reality for the children. Off course this is all much easier said than done.
Divorce can be a very stressful and painful process, triggering old feelings of abandonments or not being good enough as well. It is not a luxury to have professional guidance of an experienced and involved mediator, collaborative team (lawyers and neutrals) to come to a good settlement of the divorce. Divorcing is a holistic process, in the sense that the entire outcome of this process will have a big impact on your further lives, so you are worth it and the children as well to have this guided in a good professional way.
Also to agree on a clause in the parenting plan to evaluate the plan once in a while or who to approach when you have a misunderstanding or a dispute, like a mediator or a parental coordinator. It is only reasonable to expect that there will be a few bumps on the road and to not be flabbergasted about it but be prepared by already have a person in place to help you straighten it out when necessary.
A mediator cannot change the past or the way your ex communicates, you can only change yourself, look at the dynamics and look at what you and your ex aka the other parent of your children has to offer to be the best team for the children even when you are apart.
It will make all the difference.