By Rosalind Sedacca
During and after divorce your children may be hyper-sensitive about
many things. What may have formerly been routine conversations,
questions or activities can now be touchy subjects fraught with
anxiety, resentment or ager. This is understandable when you
consider that the stability of the world they knew has been
dramatically altered. Minor insecurities can easily grow into major
problems. Children may regress in their behaviors and skills,
become more clinging – or more aloof – depending on their
adaptability and perspective about the divorce.
This is a time to master the art of good parent/child communication
so you can reinforce or rebuild trust, security and confidence that
things will be okay again – despite the changes inflicted by your
Here are some solid tips for more effective communication with your
children. Master them today and they will work on your behalf for
years and years ahead.
• Keep your conversations private – at times when others are not
around. This assures a more relaxed connection, more intimacy and
safety. Your child is more likely to open up and confide their real
feelings when they know they have your full attention. That means
close the computer, put down the phone, turn off the TV and let
your child know you are interested in what they are feeling and
• Listen carefully to get the gist of what they are saying, even if you don’t like the message. Don’t interrupt or correct them as they speak. You’ll have your turn, but if they don’t feel “heard” you are likely not going to have another chance at real communication. Here’s where “active listening” skills are a real plus: paraphrase
back what you think you’ve heard, look directly at them, and nod
your head to show you’re listening. Then ask if you got the message
right after you’ve repeated it.
• Focus more on what happened rather than “why.” Allow the entire story to be told or all their feelings to be shared without jumping to judgment. You can still parent, explain your values, and support your decisions while not minimizing your child’s right to their own “take” on things. Also remind your child that they are loved and accepted, despite what they think or have done. You can reject the behavior without rejecting the child.
• Avoid the lectures, the smug ”I told you so’s,” the moralizing
put-downs or other forms of embarrassing your children, especially
if others are around. Instead offer constructive ways to remedy the
situation when possible. Brainstorm together. Remind your child
that not all challenges can be neatly resolved or agreed upon by
all parties. This can be a valuable life-lesson for them shared
with empathy, compassion and insight.
While it’s often easier to provide negative feedback, try to end
your communication in a positive tone. This will encourage
additional conversations and their willingness to confide in you
again when things are not going well. Find something you can praise
in their behavior or their communication so they feel valued and
significant. Remember, divorce imposes changes within the family
that your children never asked for. With these thoughts in mind
you’ll deepen your relationship with your children at a time when
they need it most!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, is the author of the internationally-acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children -- with Love! The ebook provides expert advice which helps parents create a unique personal family storybook that guides them through this difficult transition with optimum results. To learn more, visit: http://www.howdoitellthekids.com. For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies For Getting It Right!, her coaching services and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com.