Divorce is painful for children. The entire family dynamic changes when mom and dad no longer live together. Children may hear bickering, blaming, and badmouthing, which has a negative impact on a child’s life. A parent’s mood and level of anxiety affects children whether the parent realizes it or not.
For the adults, there is emotional, physical and financial stress that keeps them up at night. Preoccupation and stress will cause parents to lose focus on what’s most important – the kids.
Separating yourself from worries and fears during a divorce is difficult.
Guilt, sadness, resentment, and fear will be felt. And then there is shame. It is a difficult process, but one thing you can do is to practice self-compassion. If you are going to use mindfulness to ease the stress of your divorce and focus on your children, you must start being mindful and compassionate to yourself first.
Self-Care and Compassion
Your kids rely on you. The moment you stop caring for yourself, you stop caring for your kids, too. Taking time everyday, even just five minutes, for yourself to engage in a contemplative practice will help you find your center so that you can be more present with your children. Meditation is a contemplative practice that offers significant benefits to mind, body, and spirit.
- Ease stress
- Calm your emotions and clear emotional clutter
- Help you develop a healthy distance from negative and reactive emotions
Taking time to care for yourself by meditating can have a positive impact on your children because it provides you with the emotional and psychological stamina to be present with with them – whether they are 2 years old or 12 years old. And children need positive and present attention from parents.
Allow Time for Hard Emotions
One of the hardest things to face during a divorce is overwhelming emotions. You will be filled with emotions, from anger to sadness and dismay. Trying to hide these emotions from your children can be difficult.
It’s a confusing time, and if mom or dad are hiding their emotions, children may be confused. Developing mindful awareness can help you share the sadness you and your children are feeling in a way that is child appropriate, and possibly even transformative for you and your children.
If you are mindful of your own and your child’s emotions and show them that it’s okay to have and to talk about the feelings related to divorce, it is less likely kids will not shut down and grow distant.
Be Mindful of Negativity
No one wants to damage their child. But damage can result from blaming the other parent for the divorce or talking negatively about the other parent. What’s hard is being mindful of the negativity and what it will do to your child. Before you say anything about the other parent, stop, take several deep breaths, and ask yourself:
- Is this negative?
- Is this hateful?
Remember the old adage – if you do not have anything nice to say, then do not say anything at all. If you feel angry or hostile toward the other parent, sit down, breathe, and do not say anything. Oftentimes, impulsive reactions to negative emotions result in mom or dad speaking their mind, which negatively impacts a child.
Be mindful of your negativity.
Create a Gratitude Journal
Divorce may be the end of the family dynamic as a child knows it now, but it doesn’t need to be the end of a family dynamic forever. A great method to become closer with your child and ease the divorce transition is to create a gratitude journal together.
This is an act of forced mindfulness, and it works.
Sit down at the table with your child as often as you can during the week, and take to time to jot down things you are thankful for in life. This gratitude can include:
- Eating a delicious meal
- Time with your child
- Your dog
- Yours and your children’s health
You can go as far as posting notes around the house to remind both of you of the lists that you made this past week. Use these times of gratitude as a form of affirmation.
These are but small steps that you can begin taking to ease the stress of divorce for yourself and for your children. For more information on a mindful approach to divorce and separation go to www.mindfulfamilylaw.com.