Why Staying Together For The Sake Of The Children Is Not Always Best

Parents sometimes feel that they are doing their children a favour by staying together instead of getting a divorce. Are two parents in the house better than in two separate households? Not according to a study done in the UK. 82% of children stated it was better for their parents to separate than stay together because of them. Emotions are contagious which means kids pick up on the unhappiness and tension in the home. Parents may erroneously feel that their angry or hurt feelings are well hidden behind smiling masks. Youngsters are smart and figure out that something is not right between their parents. My sons asked me for several years why I waited so long to get a divorce. My parents screamed at each other behind a closed door when I was a toddler. They divorced when I was four and it seemed like Christmas every day afterwards.

Some couples claim that they are staying together for the sake of the kids when the real reason is fear of the unknown. Consider consulting a professional if this might be the case. If wondering if you would have enough money post-divorce, meet with a financial advisor or career coach. They can look at your assets and financial state to give an idea what to expect. A relationship therapist can help you sort out the pros and cons with staying or divorcing plus give support. One grandmother was afraid if she divorced that it would affect how much she could see her grandkids. A reality check helped her to follow what was really in her heart.

In the same study by the charity Resolution, 31% of the children were upset about their parents putting the other one down in their presence. This draws kids into one’s divorce drama. If they defend the absent parent, the one criticizing may get angry. If they are silent that may be perceived as agreement with the criticism. It puts the youngsters in an uncomfortable position. Nearly 90% of the children felt that their parents needed to stop making the divorce process seem as if they had to take sides. Even if a third party is involved in the divorce – do not talk about them to the youngsters.

Children know that they got half of their DNA from each of you. Trashing the other parent may be misconstrued that part of them is bad, mentally ill or whatever you said about the other parent. I told my sons that each of us made some mistakes and look at what did and did not work. Use that information to become fantastic parents themselves someday. It is okay not to mention the other parent at all. I still do not talk about their father, but will listen without commenting if they feel the need to speak about him. Some people can co-parent wonderfully together and others cannot for various reasons. I interviewed former spouses in the school setting regarding their secret to being able to co-parent so well. All stated “we put our egos aside.” Fabulous advice. Make “doing what is best for the children” be your motto.

When splitting up, keep in mind that you have needs too. It is easy to let friends fall to the wayside when struggling through the divorce process. This is when you need a support system the most. Make some time to be connected with others – even if for a quick latte. One accountant who was swamped with end of tax season work, went off to see a movie. She said when life is most stressful, that is the time for a short break to get one’s batteries recharged and get rejuvenated. Just as you require some fun built into your schedule, so do the kids. They need to blow off steam, get away from the divorce situation and just be kids. Think of some enjoyable activities – a carnival, bowling, ice cream, white water rafting etc.

Shake up the rituals that you did when married with a different twist post-divorce. Go to different restaurants and venues to replace old memories with new ones. I was trying to keep many of the same routines post-divorce with my sons. After they commented about the unpleasant times spent in places that we went while still married, it was my wake up call for a ritual overhaul. We stopped going to the old restaurants and replaced them with lively cafes and coffee houses. We found different travel destinations which were exciting. A way to get over the past is to have new adventures. If fear is holding you hostage, there are professionals who will hold your hand all through the divorce process and guide you every step of the way.

Originally  published in Splitsville    splitsville.com   which is a social utility where you’ll connect with others,
swap stories, get ideas, solutions and much more.

Helping Adult Sons And Daughters Cope With Your Divorce

Adult sons and daughters are sometimes an overlooked group when it comes to divorce. Support is given to youngsters with more people looking out for them, such as teachers and coaches. Although adult offspring may have encouraged unhappy parents to split – it is not okay to utilize them as sounding boards or guidance counsellors. Parents can fall into the trap of using their grown up kids as a confidant. Thirty years post-divorce, my friend’s father felt the need to spill the ugly details of the reason behind their divorce. Lena vaguely remembered something about her mum had an affair. Hearing the lurid tales about it was quite upsetting, with her dad stating that he was only telling her this “To set the record straight.” These big kids are not to be privy to divorce details even years later, when in their fifties.

Although they are adults, these individuals are still dealing with divorce issues. These sons and daughters may be losing their family home which is jarring even when living many kilometres away. This means sorting through their childhood memorabilia in the midst of angry parents divvying up personal assets. They need some space away from both parents. Having distance is helpful in processing their mixed emotions, especially if the divorce news was a jolt out of the blue.

An adult son or daughter may appear to have it altogether, but can be hurt little kids inside. Do not assume they are alright – ask if they are okay. They may be afraid to burden you with their unresolved issues, so encourage them to express their feelings to friends. Having a talk with their godparent or older family friend can be therapeutic. If they are floundering, a divorce coach can help them deal with the divorce situation.

Just as with young ones, do not criticize their other parent, or make it seem as if they have to choose sides. Do not ask them to deliver messages or put them on the spot with questions about the other parent. If you are divorcing their step-parent do not put them down. Your child has their own separate relationship with a step-parent and may desire continuing it after the divorce. They do not want to shut the door to it, by becoming your cheering squad during your divorce. I know of a few biological parents who tried to coerce their adult offspring to end step-parent relationships by insinuating it was a matter of loyalty. That does not work.

Your adult offspring may have their own youngsters who are trying to come to terms with the divorce. Reassure your grandchildren that they are not losing grandparents, but will see you separately. You will still have fun times. Think about continuing the rituals that they enjoy doing with you. It may be baking holiday goodies or puttering around in the garden. Some newly divorced grandparents encouraged the parents to take some holidays away together while they stayed and babysat. Their single status gave them more flexibility in taking care of grandchildren. Others take a grandchild on a short jaunt (with written parental permission).

It will take a load off your son or daughter’s mind if they realize their parents are coping well after a late in life divorce. Let them know about the fun times you are having and the fascinating people you are meeting. Then they do not feel that they have to be your source of entertainment. Moving on and showing others that you are enjoying your new life is a gift to your children. They have enough on their plate without constantly worrying about how you are doing post-divorce. Reassure your adult offspring that you are fine. Think about having an adventure such as ticking a destination off your Bucket List.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine  thedivorcemagazine.co.uk

The Difference Parents Can Make In Their Teen’s Depression

The Difference You Can Make In Your Teen's DepressionIn 2016, suicide moved up the list from third to second leading cause of death in teenagers. Think about that for a second…teenagers are killing themselves more than ever and it is terrifying as a parent to realize that we have children in this age range.

Teen depression is a serious problem. In a world that seems programmed to make them doubt themselves, just developing a healthy self image seems like an insurmountable undertaking. Add in other factors like divorce, a difficult co-parent or trauma and the list of potential triggers for serious teenage depression becomes longer and longer.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Teen Is Depressed?

Changes in appetite, increased or decreased sleep, apathy, sudden bouts of crying, isolation, signs of self harm….these are all signals of depression in a teenager. If you have noticed any of them, or a combination of these or other symptoms, you probably feel very anxious.

But studies have shown that your are a lifeline for your teen and your support is critical in their health and success. Here are some ways you can make a difference in your teen’s depression.

  • Listen To Them Speak Honestly – One of the hardest thing to do is speak openly and honestly to someone about how you’re feeling. With a child, they have to worry about changing the way you look at them. Show your teen that they can be open and speak without being judged.
  • Don’t Punish Them For Their Feelings – Feelings are impossible to just ignore and yet we will so often push them away out of fear of the consequences. Your teen could be afraid to share their feelings because you may punish them for what they express. Make it clear you would never do that.
  • Recognize That It Isn’t Up To You To “Fix” Them – You are a parent and you probably see it as your job to fix things for your kids. But their emotions and mental health belong to your teen. Don’t make them feel pressure to lie and say they are fine so you can feel like you are fixing their issues.
  • Get Them Involved In External Activities – Isolation is a common symptom of depression and also one that can make the depression worse. Try to get your teen involved in activities they once enjoyed, even if they push back at first. Sometimes you have to force them to interact with others, for their own mental health.

Seek Professional Help

All of the above tips won’t stop the depression, they will only support your child. Professional help may be necessary, especially if other conditions exist. Don’t be afraid to turn to a therapist or doctor.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn