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3 Ways to Reassure Your Kids After a Divorce

Children take divorce hard. That’s not an old wives’ tale. It’s something that has been proven out case-by-case, study-after-study. That’s not to say that it’s something that has to haunt them forever, though. In fact, you have a lot of say in the direction that it takes them in life, so try to make sure they’re on the right path with the following reassurances.

1. Let them know unequivocally that it isn’t their fault. 

Kids can often feel like they’re the reasons Mom and Dad are getting a divorce, and it’s not really a message that we as parents are innocent of sending. When you let the stress and animosity of your marriage spill out onto the child or for the child to see and that ends up in divorce, what else can they think? Make sure that you and your spouse are making time to explain the drive behind the divorce. It may mean a difficult conversation where you can no longer shield the child from the realities of life, but it beats the alternative of having them accept all the blame that isn’t theirs to begin with.

2. Express to them that they are still Mom and Dad’s number one priority, and that neither of you will love them less after the divorce is final. 

Children need to hear and be shown that they are loved, and you can do that by taking the time to express it to them together and individually every chance that you get. That doesn’t mean they will immediately understand the divorce, but they will believe that you are not going to forget them; that you will still look at them as the gifts that they are. 

3. Show them a stable home wherever they’re staying. 

This is easier said than done but definitely necessary. The older a child gets, the wiser he will become. And with wisdom comes experimentation. One of the areas they’re likely to experiment in is playing Mom and Dad against one another to get their way. While this may feel like a short-term game for them, none of you win when that happens. What the child is really trying to show is that he yearns for discipline and stability. He yearns for a Mom and Dad, who will care enough about him to rein him in. When you fail to work together as co-parents, he may get his way in the short term, but he’ll lose his way in the long term, and will probably grow to resent you for it. So make sure that wherever he’s staying, he has to follow the same set of rules and standards. Approach disciplinary actions as a team. Even if you could not work together to save the marriage, you should still be able to work together to guide your child.

What were/are some common fears that your children have felt/are feeling through divorce? What reassurances have you given that were effective? Sound off in the comments section!

4 Reminders to Make You Better Co-Parents

Co-parenting can be difficult, particularly if you are fresh out of a contentious divorce and still trying to figure out how to coexist. It’s at this point that you’ve both got to refocus your efforts on the child and do what is best for him or her. The centerpiece of your relationship must shift. While before you may have been trying to make your relationship work for everyone, now you have to make the co-parenting relationship take precedent. That means setting aside personal feelings and ill will and remembering these basic but important tips.

1. Have conversations instead of disagreements. 

Yes, you will disagree with one another, and you may even feel anger, but try to leave that at the door when discussing parenting decisions. The need to compete is over. “My way is better than your way” hysterics no longer have a place because regardless of method, it must be something that stabilizes and nurtures the child. If you do feel like your voices are starting to raise, take a break and focus on what you CAN agree on. Also, realize that fragmented parenting is not an option, and that compromise is a must if you’re going to do right by your child.

2. Respect each other.

You may not like your ex as a person, but you can respect them if their heart is in it for the child. Try to let go of the past and look at their motives as it concerns your son or daughter. If they are doing what they feel is right for the child — even if it’s not the way that you would do it — respect that.

3. Save contentious issues for times when your children aren’t around. 

By “not around,” we mean “not even in the same house.” Wait until your children are at a friend’s house or at school if there is something that you foresee being contentious. Then meet at a neutral place — publicly — and hash it out over coffee or lunch. Kids are good at picking up on tension, so there needs to be some type of buffer between your meeting and the next time you see your child.

4. Choose your next relationship as a complement to your co-parenting relationship. 

If being a good co-parent is what you’re looking to do, then make sure that any future relationships fit in nicely with that situation. Doesn’t mean you have to make your new boyfriend or girlfriend be friends with your ex, but they do need to be able to interact without tension, and your new significant other needs to understand that the co-parenting relationship isn’t one they can control.

What are some things that have helped you co-parent effectively? Share your tips in our comments section!

Event Planning for the Divorced Parent

Planning and attending an event that is designed to honor your child is doubly difficult for a divorced parent when they know they’ll have to see their ex. However, it’s not impossible to pull off a great family function even while you’re not particularly fond of the company. There are some precautions you’ll need to take, though. 

1. Try to handle the planning together. 

When you are the only one coordinating the event, it can be difficult planning for the stiff dynamic that might exist between you and your ex. By the same token, it can make you seem like you’re running the show instead of being inclusive. The best thing you can do is reach out to your ex with enough advance time to bring them in on the planning or, at the very least, get their blessing for moving forward. They’ll appreciate that you asked, and it will go a long way in moving forward with a tone of respect. 

2. Discuss any ‘guests’ that you plan on including. 

Unfortunately, divorced people do not often go through their moving on processes at the same time, so it’s important to realize that one of you may be single while the other one isn’t. It’s not altogether necessary to bar your new guy or girl from attending the event, but you should discuss the matter with your ex first and be sure that you’ve allowed a respectable amount of time and healing to pass before even considering it. Again, “respect” is the word. 

3. Keep the behind-the-scenes stuff behind the scenes. 

Your child will probably feel tense enough — depending on age — knowing you’re both going to be there. That’s at least if your discontent for one another shows through. However, you shouldn’t have to avoid each other when it comes to a day or event that is supposed to be about the kid. If there are any issues that you have to work out re: planning and/or feelings and conflicts, take care of it behind the scenes. Leave your child out of it, and let them be a kid. 

What are some event planning tips that have helped you when coordinating events where you and your ex will be present? Share in the comments section. 

How Divorce Affects Children Of Different Ages

Dr. Gail Gross, in an article for Huffington Post, recently shed light on the impact of divorce on different-aged children from toddlers to 12. According to Gross, the impacts can be very negative, but manifest themselves in different ways.

For toddlers (ages 1-3), they can be “more vulnerable to emotional problems later in life,” mostly because they “personalize their world; as a result, they may feel that their parents’ divorce is their fault,” Gross writes. This is an impact inwardly. But as the child gets older and experiences divorce later in life (ages 6-12), the impact tends to manifest in outward ways.

“For school age children … parental divorce can negatively impact education … In this age group, children are still very egocentric and can feel responsible for not only their parents’ separation, but for the possibility of a reconciliation. Children ages six through 12 grieve the loss of their parents’ marriage. It is almost inconceivable … that their parents, that belong to them, are no longer living together, and that in fact, one parent is living apart.”

The feeling of being completely helpless to the outcome of a divorce can lead to the child displaying “regressive or aggressive behavior.”

“Withdrawal, aggression, needy, and disobedient behavior can all be seen in the classroom. Daydreaming and not doing schoolwork are behaviors seen by the teacher by children of divorce. Also children ages 6-12 are old enough to understand that their parents have detached from one another. It is here that children criticize one parent or the other and might show their anger by deliberately taking sides.”

So yes, things get a LOT more complicated when the child is in the six to 12 range, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that your divorce, if done early enough in the child’s life, will be less of an impact. Children in the toddler stages see things. They see other kids with moms and dads, and they wonder why theirs can’t get along.

The best way through either situation is to be the best parents that you can be for your kids, and that’s not something easy to do alone. Co-parents may not work as husband and wife, but they can be an incredible source of stability for children during a difficult time in their lives. If you are on the verge of divorce, make your children the biggest priority that you have. It will help neutralize the negative impacts.

Should Co-Parents Make Vows To Their Children?

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.48.58 AMAs an online divorce review site, we’re always looking at new tips and stories that might be able to help you, the reader, who may be going through a difficult time. One of the most difficult experiences of all is that of co-parenting after you’ve said goodbye to the marriage. Sometimes it can seem like your ex is just doing things to mess with you. But then, other times it can work beautifully.

There is something you can learn from the beauty, and this tip comes from Heather Cooper, who recently sat down with Huffington Post to describe how she and her ex-husband made it work after they ended their marriage.

While the whole thing is worth a read, we’re going to pull out one particularly interesting part — the “vow” that she and her ex made to their two children.

“When we divorced, Steve put his wedding band from our marriage on his right hand and we told the children that we never were going to become unwed to the family. Thanks to a lot of discussions and planning, we’ve been able to stay true to that vow. Any decision involving the kids is made mutually so our children never felt like they were able to pit us against each other. They knew we would consult each other first and they respected that.”

What Heather says makes a lot of sense, but it can be difficult to implement if you’re in the wrong mindset. Unfortunately, co-parenting often becomes about wanting the kids to like you more than your ex. When you take this route, though, you’re actually encouraging your children to dislike a part of themselves. To avoid this, a vow may be in order.

Steve actually made a physical action. He moved the wedding ring from his left hand to his right to show the kids that he wasn’t divorcing himself from the parenting relationship. By taking a memorable action, he made the vow to his children real. You and your ex may want to consider doing the same thing, but remember what Heather says: it took “a lot of discussions and planning.” Don’t be frustrated if you’re not “there” yet with your ex. It’s work, but it’s work that can have incredible results for your children. Best of luck!

This Stepdad Has The Right Idea Of How To Treat Their Spouse’s Child

Can a stepparent have a healthy and nurturing relationship with their stepchildren?

The obvious answer is yes, but it never gets old seeing such a relationship done right. As an online divorce review site, we see many of you take up your responsibilities as stepparents with seriousness and little fanfare, but it never hurts to be celebrated. Today we’re reminded of that in the story of NASCAR driver Brian Scott, who made the following vow to his three-year-old stepdaughter Brielle at his wedding to Brielle’s mother in 2011.

“I promise to always hold your hand and skip with you down the street and bring comfort to your life,” he said. “I vow to make you say your prayers before you eat. I promise to read you stories at night and to always tuck you in real tight. I vow to show you how a man should treat a woman in my relationship with your mother. And above all else, I vow to protect you, care for you and love you forever.”

Since that time, Huffington Post reports, Scott and his wife, Whitney, have made good on that promise for Brielle and even added a baby brother to the mix.

Joseph was born in 2014, and according to Scott, in a followup interview, he’s enjoying fatherhood, a title he attaches to both Brielle and Joseph.

“Just being there for [the kids] and enjoying family moments together and playing with them and hearing them laugh and seeing them smile — all of those things are so much better than any of the negative aspects people like to bring up about having kids. It’s not baggage — it’s great addition [to my life].”

It’s an unfortunate reality of life, but there are many biological parents who aren’t this committed to their children. Scott seeing his stepdaughter and his biological son as his children and the life he and Whitney are making for the pair, are refreshing things to see. Are you a stepparent, or did you grow up with one? What are some of the best aspects of the stepparent-stepchild relationship? Sound off in the comments section.

How Divorce Can Change A Child For The Better

As an online divorce review site, we see a lot of users who visit worried about whether they are doing their children irreparable harm with the decision to call it quits. There are certainly some sobering statistics out there that indicate divorce can lead to later-in-life difficulties for a young one, but there are also ways that pushing through with a divorce can enrich their lives.

For starters, it can teach them not to accept less than what they deserve.

Probably one of your biggest fears, if you’re in this boat, is that your children will experience heartache and failure in their relationships. You want them to have it better than you did and not “settle,” but how will they ever know to not settle if they see you doing it? Finding someone who makes you happy and more complete should be a goal, and if your marriage isn’t doing that, then it could be best to look elsewhere.

Secondly, children can learn they are not forgotten.

Many kids who experience negative effects of their parents’ divorce, go through it because Mom and Dad fought constantly and put them in the center — whether intentionally or unintentionally — thus making them feel like something was wrong with them and that their parents’ love for them was conditional on picking the right side. You can prevent this from happening by making your kids a priority throughout the divorce process (and after), showing them that they still matter.

Thirdly, divorce can teach kids much about conflict resolution. 

If Mom and Dad are fighting tooth-and-nail and oblivious to others’ feelings, then obviously that would be a bad lesson for your kids to learn. But if you are respectful, kind, and understanding in your approach, it can result in your kids getting a better idea of how to talk through problems and resolve conflicts.

The one constant in all these life lessons is you and your spouse. While you cannot control your spouse’s actions, you can control your own. Be the example you want your kids to have, and they’ll be at least halfway to normal, well-adjusted adulthoods.

Letter From Child Of Divorce: What You Must Know Before The Next Argument

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.48.58 AMAs an online divorce review site, we are interested in every aspect of what you’re going through and want to help you weather the storms. What we’ve noticed for many of you is that you are going through a breakup and trying to become effective co-parents. Unfortunately, you can’t control how the other party will respond, but you can control how you handle it.

You’ve probably heard studies about the downfalls of divorce on your kids, and you don’t want to put them through a rough breakup, but your spouse seems so intent on getting under your skin that it’s hard to bite your tongue. Enter The Child of Divorce website. The informational resource recently launched a viral video that has been seen more than 1.1 million times now, and it’s worth a look just in case you feel yourself about to snap at your ex.

“Dear Mom and Dad,” it begins. “I know you are hurting. I’m hurting, too. I feel and feed off your tension, fear and shock. Although I am young and can’t express verbally what is happening in our lives, I’m still feeling the impact. My heart is broken every time I have to give up a parent. My sense of security is lost. Please don’t assume that I’m resilient. Don’t assume that my life will be exactly as it was, and that I will continue to feel the same love from both of you. I’m a human being just like you. My needs are just like yours. I need love, attention, nurturing, stability, consistency, affection, understanding, patience, and, mostly, to be wanted. When you fight over me or put me in the middle of your argument, you’re sending me the message that winning with each other is more important than my life. I am learning from you that it is better to be right than to be loved.”

We highly recommend checking out the full video at this link. In it, you’ll get great insight not on what WILL go wrong with your kids during a divorce, but what COULD go wrong if you’re not aware of what they’re going through. Watch. Take it to heart. And even if you’ve got an unhelpful spouse, be the best that you can be so your kids will have the example they need. Good luck!

How To Get Along With An Ex If You’re Married To Theirs

parental_responsibilityBeing a stepparent isn’t always easy, but as an online divorce review service, we know that more often than not, when two people with kids divorce, a stepmom or stepdad will eventually enter the picture. The harmony between stepparents and their S.O.’s exes is important to the development and happiness of the child, and so we felt it was important to discuss a few things about how you can get along with “the ex” if you find yourself married to their ex. Our recommendations:

1. Realize that your primary job is not to be the child’s mother or father.

If their mother or father is still in the picture, then you will have to realize this sooner rather than later. As long as they have their parents as an active and legal part of their lives, there will be nothing you can do to change that, so you might as well embrace the reality.

2. Work to make sure that the child’s relationship with both parents is healthy.

You can do this by setting aside any differences that you may have with the ex for the sake of the child. When you realize that it’s healthier for the child to have good relationships with both parents, then you will want to facilitate that, provided that you want what’s best for the child (and if you don’t, then you really shouldn’t be married to someone with kids). The best way to facilitate that relationship is to make it easy for their real mom or dad to see them, tension-free.

3. If you can’t be the child’s parent, then be a positive role model.

The better of a role model that you are to the kid, the better your relationship will be with his biological parents. Even if you and “the ex” start out not liking each other, you will end up respecting one another if the child’s best interests are what matter most to you.

Are you a stepparent or perhaps a biological parent who had to get used to a stepparent being around? What are some tips that you can provide to improve the relationship? Share in our comments section.

These Children Of Divorce Share The Moments They Forgave Their Parents

Being a child of divorce has never been easy. The grief and the tension that goes along with having two homes is a major source of concern to the people who come to our online divorce review site. Well, recently on Reddit someone asked an interesting question to the grown children of divorce: When did you forgive the parent who initiated the divorce action? The responses are quite eye-opening and range from true forgiveness to apathy. Here are some of the best responses.

1. “I forgave my mom when I saw her happy for the first time in my life.”

2. “My dad cheated. I love my dad though. I hate what he did and I hate the decisions he made a long time ago. I’ve never heard him apologize but I know he’s sorry for breaking the family and I know he’s sorry for putting me and siblings through it. My dad is a great father, he just wasn’t a good husband. I don’t really know why I’ve forgiven him, I’d just like to think the positive which is that he’s truly sorry and he regrets his past decisions. I have a fine relationship with him, but often, I think to myself the hurt he’s caused my mom and it makes me upset and angry, but I don’t like to think like that. My mom is happy now, and so is my dad, and I’m trying not think what could my life be like had my dad been faithful.” 

3. “My mom was abusive, so my dad left. He didn’t just leave her, though–he abandoned both me and my brother, and then my mom turned her abuse toward me. My dad technically instigated the divorce, but I can’t blame him for that. My mom treated him terribly, and I can sort of understand why he ran away, even from his children. He was probably completely traumatized. My mom is just mentally ill. I forgave her in the sense that I don’t feel any ill will toward her, but she and I are not in contact. My grandmother was mostly the one who raised me anyway, so I wasn’t close with my mom to begin with. She didn’t want me and never really liked me. Her mental illness is one that causes profound emotional pain for her, but it also causes her to inflict that pain on others. I forgive her, but that doesn’t mean I have to expose myself to that kind of abuse. Neither of them have ever apologized, and I’m okay with that. It’s been ten years this week since they separated (yep, my dad left just days before Christmas), and I’m basically indifferent to it now. I used to wish my parents would divorce so the nightly fights would stop. I can”t really blame my mom for having Borderline Personality Disorder, so I guess I just sort of forgave her by default, over time.”

4. “I forgave because I had to let that … go. As Buddha says, ‘holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else, you are the one who gets burned.’ I bottled up my resentment to my mother, and eventually was able to let it go as my new life became the new normal. I can do that even knowing that, I honestly believe everyone involved would have been better off had it not happened.”

5. “When time has come and you find yourself in their shoes and you end up following their path.”

6. “Life was better once they’d split, so at the time I was grateful (and 8 years old) – no more tense mealtimes or waking up hearing arguments downstairs.”

Most agreed that if their parent put forth effort, forgiveness was inevitable. Are you worried about how your children will take the divorce? Make sure you make the process as easy on them as possible by reading through some of our online divorce reviews for the best option.