How To Talk To Kids About Divorce

You or someone you know may be getting divorced and haven’t told the kids yet.
  • How do you know when is the right time?
  • How do you know what to say?
  • How do you know how to deal with their response?
Parents Talking To Kid These are the most common questions and concerns of separating parents.
Here is a brief guide to support you or a friend in need:
Choose your timing. Though there’s never a “good” time, there are not-so-good times: school days, right before you head off to work, just as your child is going to dance class or sport practice, or just before bed. When she hears the news, she may suddenly feel unsafe and alone. She needs you to be there. Choose a moment when you’ll be together afterward to offer plenty of hugs and reassurances.
Tell her together. Even if you disagree about everything else, try to agree on what to tell your child, for her sake. Ideally, you want to deliver the news as a team. Telling her together avoids confusion. It helps preserve your child’s sense of trust in both parents.
Keep it simple. Speak in terms your child will understand, limiting the initial explanation to no more than a few key sentences.
For example, you might start with “Mommy and Daddy have done a lot of thinking,” then explain, for example, that Daddy is going to get a new apartment/home. Aim to know what the visitation days and times will be before the conversation so you can share those details. It will comfort your child to know she’ll continue to see both of you and that there’s a plan.
Tell your child that it’s not her fault. Children may blame themselves for the breakup, even if they don’t say so. Your child might think the change is happening because she didn’t do something properly like clean her room or do as well in school as might have been expected. She might also assume some responsibility for trying to fix the problem.
Tell her flat out that the divorce is an adult decision and has nothing to do with her.
Avoid the blame game. However angry you might be, don’t blame each other for the breakup, and avoid arguing in front of your child. Also keep to yourself any details about issues that didn’t work in the marriage.
Sometimes one parent may feel so upset that they want to tell the child about the other spouse’s egregious or erroneous behavior. Refrain from this. Children will take this as a betrayal — or worse, criticism of them. For example, if one calls the other a “liar” or “cheat,” they begin to see themselves, half the product of that parent, as half a liar, half a cheat.
Answers to common questions from kids about divorce:
“What’s a divorce?” Your basic response could go something like: “Divorce means Mommy and Daddy won’t live together anymore. But we’ll always be your parents, and we’ll always love you.”Gently try to find out what she believes or knows about divorce in general and what friends or schoolmates they know whose parents are divorced. This will help you understand the notions she has about divorce and what fears she may harbor about losing friends, families, a parent, a home, or social standing. While divorce is common, it can be awkward for your child at a time when kids are comparing themselves to each other and fretting about fitting in.“Why are you getting divorced?” Don’t go into too much detail and keep the emphasis on “we.” Avoid saying anything like “We don’t love each other anymore,” because your child might assume you can also “fall out of love” with her. You might say, “we work better together living apart and we decided we would do what is best for everyone.”

“Will I still see Grandma and Grandpa? (or other family or friends) Let her know what to expect regarding seeing relatives. Ideally you can say with authenticity that she will continue to see relatives as has been in the past and even that on holidays like Christmas, Passover, Eid, Kwanza or the like, there may be times when you spend it all together.

“Where will I sleep?” At this age, your child will have a lot of questions about how her daily life will be affected: “Will I still go to my same school? Who’s going to take me to dance/skiing/soccer?” These are very real concerns for a child, so go over the details. For example, “You’ll still live with Mommy here in our house. You’ll have a home at Daddy’s new house; you’ll have your own special bedroom.” Depending on what you agree on, you can tell her she can be part of searching for the new place and/or picking decorative items, etc.

“Who will take care of Daddy (or Mommy, depending on which parent is moving out)?” Your child might have a sense of empathy that’s developed enough for her to actually worry about the parent who is moving out.
Reassure her that the other parent will be just fine. You might say, “Daddy might miss you when he’s not with you, but he won’t be sad because he would see you again very soon.”

Next steps:

Pour on the love. Divorce is difficult for children to understand and accept. While your child adjusts, she’ll need a lot of your affection and attention. Resist the urge to talk constantly on the phone or let TV become the sitter. Give her more snuggle time or extra time during bedtime routine. Just as you benefit from your support network of relatives and friends now more than ever, your child needs extra hugs and kisses from you.

Keep talking. Even after the news has sunk in, be prepared to go over the same explanations and answer questions again and again, for weeks or even months. Make sure she knows that you’re open to questions about the divorce any time, even if what you really want is to stop talking about it. One way to keep the lines of communication open is to read kids’ books like Ricci’s Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids, or Lallouz’s The Case of the Clown Who Lives in Two Tents.

Keep routines consistent. Sometimes divorce can make it difficult to maintain routines or even keep the house tidy. But continuing a child’s regular schedule, in Mom’s house and Dad’s house, makes children feel safe. As much as possible, make basic mealtimes and other rituals the same between the two households. Make sure the kids keep going to school and any classes or practices — the more things remain the same for your child, the more stable she’ll feel.

Be aware of signs of trouble. Your child may have difficulties adjusting to visitation and custody arrangements. Look for signs like misbehavior or withdrawal, particularly after a visit with the other parent. To open up a dialogue without putting words in your child’s mouth, say something like, “I’m wondering if you’re missing your Mom right now.” Your child might just need time to transition from one household to the next or a safe way to vent.

Consider seeing a family coach or counselor to guide you and your child through this transition. Other parents have said it is the best thing they could have done as it gives a safe place for each parent, personally, to have support, and for children to ask questions or talk about things, without worrying about upsetting their parents.

Make a point of remaining positive. If your divorce means, as it often does, that you’re taking a financial hit and they can no longer have every toy they want or take expensive vacations, let them know you’ll still do lots of fun things together.

PLEASE share your comments below…

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How Realtors Can C.A.R.E. For Their Divorcing Clients

I received a call from a dear friend who is a Realtor. She said, “Tallie, I need to talk to you about an important business matter.”

We met soon after that call at a locally owned tea/coffee house. She explained to me that among the many clients she has who are listing their homes, she has several who are listing their home because they are divorcing. She was very committed to providing the utmost service to all herImage clients and felt that when it came to those who are divorcing, there seemed to be different, complicated and sometimes emotional issues that would arise. She asked me for my help in understanding them better, so as to provide her service with real care.

I’d like to share what I offered her. Here are a few keys to implement when dealing with real estate clients who are divorcing:

1. Compassion. This may seem like an obvious one; however to actually practice this way of being in reality takes some conscious effort. It includes imagining being in someone else’s shoes, while at the same time never assuming that you know what it is really like to be them. You are affording them the respect and appreciation they deserve for what they are dealing with in their life at the moment. This practice also requires acknowledging that your divorcing client is going through a phase that sometimes has them acting in ways (sometimes even irrational, emotional ways) that are not typical; and this phase will pass. Treat people as the mature adults they are, who obviously had enough of what it takes to purchase their own home to begin with.

2. Ask permission. Sometimes you, as a Realtor, can become somewhat of a confidant for your clients. When people are selling and buying a home Realtors know how emotional it can be for any client. With your divorcing clients you may be someone who can listen to what they are dealing with – without being a therapist or counsellor, but rather a confidential listening ear who is supporting them in this transition. Be open to being in that role, but always ask permission first before you discuss or ask questions about their personal affairs.

3. Review options. As a Realtor you know that the more time you have to properly stage a home for sale, the higher the likelihood for higher offers. For some of your divorcing clients, that could mean living under the same roof for longer than they would prefer! Discuss the options so that they are clear about implications of a quicker sale versus taking the time to “do it right.” Let your client choose what will work for them and bring your compassion and respect to their choice.

4. Evaluate & Elevate. After you and your client have evaluated all options and have made all necessary decisions, it’s time to move forward. Through the process, like any life situation, there may be some difficult times. Keep Elevating the C.A.R.E. principles to be more superior than the frustration that can often arise. This takes practice. So please, don’t only bring compassion and respect to your divorcing client, but also bring compassion and respect to yourself: someone who is choosing to practice new principles for making a difference for your clients.

If you have any stories to share, either as a Realtor or a divorcing client, please do tell!

 

How To Keep The Love When You Leave The Marriage

When a marriage or long term committed relationship ends, in order to reconcile what happened, it is common to attempt to identify something that was wrong that gives reason for the breakdown of the relationship – either the other person, the relationship itself, or even oneself was somehow to blame for the failure.
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As we move on from our past relationships, we are likely moving into a future of avoiding making that same mistake again. This leaves us guarded, cautious, or in some ways, easily critical of any prospective new partner. In many cases, this may cause us to hesitate entering another relationship at all for fear of the same failure.
While it is valid to take the view that there was something wrong or at fault for the unworkability of the relationship, it is not the only view. Consider that our relationships are a place to grow, learn and, ultimately, evolve. In this view, each of us has something to gain from each of our relationships and, equally, something to offer, all for the purpose of evolution – both for ourselves and for our partners.
I have had several clients ask, “Is it really possible to have a peaceful divorce when one person wants peace and the other wants to fight?” And my answer is, “Yes, it is possible.” How? In many ways, by taking the view that you are in charge of your own evolution, and you have the capacity to influence another’s evolution in the process.
The first step is to make a commitment to viewing your relationship, including the ending of it, as an integral part of your evolution. Sometimes people say they are committed to learning, but truly they are still looking for ‘who or what is to blame?’ It takes consistent practice in noticing when you are blaming someone or something (including yourself), letting that go, and re-committing to discovering your evolutionary journey.
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The second step is to choose your core values. Values may be patience, compassion, love, honesty, forgiveness, collaboration, peace, etc. These values are your beacon, your higher-guiding light in those difficult moments when conversations get intense, or when you are not even with your ex-partner but battling in your mind with them. Arm yourself with the values that most ignite you and leave you feeling ‘real’ for yourself. Practice acting from your values more and more, and that ability will strengthen.
The third important step is to acknowledge the manifestation of your vision, even in the smallest of accomplishments. It is always easy to see the negativity, failures or disappointments. We often overlook the accomplishments that illuminate the path of continuous evolution ahead. It may be as simple as during a conversation, your ex-partner said something that you would normally react to with anger, and instead you took a deep breath, listened, and responded in a calm and peaceful way. Or, you may recognize your ex-partner for responding calmly when they would normally react with anger. Either way, it is worth acknowledging as part of the evolution of your relationship and yourself.
When you practice these steps – and it does take practice – you will support yourself to leave the relationship and keep the love.
Get a free copy of my e-book, “5 Ways To End Your Marriage Without Ending Your Life” at http://www.familyforeverlifestyle.com
Request a Free One-on-One consultation with Tallie:

The 3 Biggest Mistakes People Make When They Divorce

It is hard enough to make the decision to divorce. But once that decision is made, there really are do’s and don’ts. Often each party to the divorce is so entrenched in their emotions and personal perspective about their position that they lose sight of the important bigger picture, and hence make some big mistakes!

Here are the 3 biggest mistakes people make and some suggestions on how to avoid them:

  1. Blaming the other person for the break-up of the relationship. No matter what the other party has done, and I have seen some horrible things, as long as you point the finger at the other person for why you are in the situation you are in, you have no power to truly move on (even while the divorce process is under way) and create a great, new life. The person you give the blame to is the person you have given your power to. Look to see if anywhere in your speaking or your thoughts you have a word of blame toward the other person. (Even the most enlightened among has have just a bit.) Then see where you can own what happened in the breakdown of the relationship, and bring forgiveness to both you and them.
  2. Giving up on communicating with the other person. You’re probably thinking, “We couldn’t communicate when we were together, how do you expect us to do that NOW?!” My answer is, “If you think you never have to communicate with this person again, you are mistaken.” Especially if you have children or other life situations that tie you together, you will need to communicate. Unless you want to pay intermediaries a lot of money to make your decisions and be your mouth piece, or you want to rock your personal health from the stress, make communicating a priority. Even if you’re not tied to this person in future, these skills are important in ANY relationship so making it important to transform and practice this now is a smart investment in yourself.
  3. Being short-sighted when making decisions regarding division-of-assets, family planning, etc. I have seen too many people fight for their right to have what they believe they deserve, such as property, money, custody of the kids, etc. without thinking through the long term impact financially and emotionally. Often the long term cost far outweighs the benefit. For example, legal or other costs eat into the once valuable assets or grown children stop speaking to one or both parents. I’ve also seen the reverse, where a person claims “I don’t need anything, I just want out.” Down the road they are struggling to make financial ends meet or they’ve settled on a family plan that doesn’t positively serve all involved. Think through the long-term implications of each decision. Ideally, do this with a professional who understands these matters legally, financially, emotionally and socially.

 

Tallie Rabin is a Family-Life & Peaceful Divorce Coach in Toronto, Canada. Tallie has walked numerous individuals and couples through their divorce process, and helped them successfully part ways peacefully and establish a family life they are proud of.

Get a free copy of Tallie’s E-report, “5 Ways to End Your Marriage Without Ending Your Life” at: http://www.familyforeverlifestyle.com

 

 

Have you counted your blessings today?

The day before yesterday I received a phone call from my step-Mother. “Sweetheart, Dad has gone into the hospital. After the medical test he had yesterday, he developed a fever…I didn’t want to take any chances so I took him to Emergency.”

Immediately I catch my mind racing; thoughts were racing so fast my mind was already in a future that was not even in existence in reality, as I imagine my father suddenly aged well beyond his years and beyond his actual health. I felt scared, worried, and even defensive and accusatory – “who’s fault is this!?” I pull myself back to the present reality as quickly as I catch the thoughts. 

He ended up being admitted as there were further complications to deal with.

This was now a Saturday. On this particular Saturday, although it was my weekend to have my 2 sons with me, my son’s father and I agreed that they’d go over there for his wife’s mother’s 70th birthday party.

Now I’m trying to sort out getting myself over to the hospital to be with my Father, as I had my 4 and a half year old daughter with me. It doesn’t seem appropriate to take her with me to the hospital when I could end up being there several hours.

What could I do?

As a single parent these types of organizational dilemmas are fairly common. For those who can relate, you know that many times plans get foregone in order to heroically manage being the one to take care of the child(ren). And, of course, asking for help seems like the logical thing to do, but, again, for those who can relate, often it seems like such a burden to ask….yet again.

There I was thinking this through, there are several places she could easily go, and then “light bulb”…..I thought to myself, “the place Sarah would most rather be is with her brothers….who are going to their Dad and step-Mum’s….”

I picked up the phone. I got my boys’ step-Mum on the line. “Hey, Tal, how’s it going?” I explain, “Actually, Dad’s been admitted to the hospital….(I explain the situation)… I want to ask a favour, and it is completely ok to say ‘no’ as I know it’s your Mother’s 70th birthday party at your house….” Before I could even finish my sentence, “Tal, no problem. Sarah can come here. Thomas (their 3 year old) would be so happy to have her over.”

My eyes welled up with tears and I had a lump in my throat. I was moved at how gracious and caring she was. The truth is, we have this type of relationship. But, I realized in that moment, I really don’t take it for granted. I was moved by the openness and the love. This is family.

I count my blessings today for the life I have. And, even more, I count my blessings for the life I have created. The Family-Life I have is not one that would just have emerged this way automatically. This is one that, through difficult transitions, I and my family members as a team, have intentionally created. In moments like these, I am eternally grateful.

I also count our blessings that my Father is doing well. 

If you have blessings to count today, please…do so. If you have loved ones or special people in your life to acknowledge and appreciate today…..please do so.

Please drop a line below with your comments and even your blessings.

 

 

Not crazy…after all these years!

10 years after creating a peaceful divorce, and maintaining a “Family Forever Lifestyle” I often take my accomplishments for granted!

This morning my first husband and I met with our son and our son’s academic coach. We met to discuss our son’s progress and create a plan for the next month of his work.

The whole thing was like a “no brainer.” I called him up and said, “….We need to meet and support Will’s progress…the coach can meet us at 8:30 in the morning” My ex said, “Sure, I’ll be there” Simple.

He and I operate as partners with a common goal: our children’s success and fulfillment. There were points in the meeting where he “took over” and I stepped aside and watched, supported, and listened. And, likewise, there were times in the meeting where I led and he listened and supported. The end result? Our son is supported and empowered! And….so are his parents!

It’s amazing to think that 10 years ago I could not have imagined this was what my family-life would look like. At that time, during our marital breakdown I spent days, weeks and months wondering and questioning “can I make this work?” “How do I get him to want to make this work?” “What have I done wrong? And how can I fix it?” and I had thoughts of “I have to make this work” “This can’t fail.” I was scared to answer these questions for I didn’t know what path the answers might lead me on.

Those were not easy times. But I not only got through that time, I even transformed myself in the process. I discovered a way to get my own sense of clarity and peace to be able to make the right choice, for me and my family. And, while separating was still sad and, at times, really difficult, I was able to do it with love and peace.

The process I developed is something I am now teach other people, in a 4-step approach. I developed this process because I see so many people suffer with these same types of questions. And, because it seems so difficult to answer these questions, so many people stagnate and take no action.

If you are struggling with similar types of marital or relationship questions, let’s talk.

I am offering a 4 – part Tele-class starting Aug 15 at 8PM Eastern Time. http://www.tallie.tv/sales

Or, you may want faster results, end the suffering quickly and begin to breath deep and feel at peace now. Then you might explore personal coaching with me on this topic – email me directly at tr@tallie.tv

Like always, I appreciate you taking the time to read and I trust you got value. Leave a question or comment below.

 

 

A Man’s Experience With Divorce: A Little Compassion Goes A Long Way

It is Saturday morning…the Saturday morning that David plans to tell his wife he wants a divorce.  David has been thinking about divorce for at least six months, but has been afraid to approach the subject.  man-sitting-on-his-bed-while-his-girlfriend-working-on-the-laptopStill apprehensive, he decides get up early, make a nice breakfast and set the stage for a civil conversation with his wife before the children wake. His wife rolls out of bed around 7:00 and greets him with a good morning kiss on the cheek as she grabs a cup of coffee.  Their eyes lock and in that moment, she sees there is something wrong. His eyes look puffy and bloodshot, his forehead has those wrinkles he gets when he is worried about something, and his lips are pierced like they are when he has something important to say.  Rather then sit in silence and wonder she says, “What’s up hunny?” He has already decided that the easiest way to tell her is to just ‘spit it out’. So, he says, “Jane, I would like to sit together over breakfast and talk about our relationship. I have decided that I want a divorce.”

 

Talking about divorce is an emotionally charged human experience that brings individual values and beliefs to the surface quickly. These may be grounded in a variety of things like personal experience, observations of others, spiritual beliefs, or feelings of fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt.  Many have a mental picture of how divorce looks, and often it is different for men than women. Most common is the picture of a man transitioning through divorce largely untouched, and the woman struggling to support herself and her children. For many men this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

 

David, like many men is:

 

Experiencing a range of emotions: He feels guilty for breaking off the marriage.  He already misses his wife and the way they used to love each other. He is grieving the loss of his friends, community, house, and daily routines.  He is afraid that he will not get to see his kids as much.  He doesn’t know where he is going to live, or how he is going to support himself while paying alimony and child support.

 

An active dad:  David spends a lot of time with his kids.  He wants to be involved in their lives and worries that he will have fewer and fewer opportunities.  He is even afraid of being replaced by another man.  He knows that his children will miss the stories he reads every night and the Saturday afternoon bike rides.

 

Worried about his future: He and his wife spent the last 10 years building a life together. He worries they will have nothing left by the time the divorce is final. He plans to let his wife stay in the house with the kids. But, he has no idea where he is going to go.  The future in front of him is one of completely starting over.

 

Isolated: He has nobody to talk to about the divorce. He feels like it is his job to stand strong, work hard, and make sure that his ex-wife and children are provided for.  Many of his friends are “their” friends and he knows that some will stop talking to him.  He may not even know that he is going to need a new support system and he struggles to ask for help.

 

Are you a man or a woman experiencing divorce? Is somebody close to you going through this transition? Do you work with people who are trying to move on and rebuild their lives?  Remember that every divorce is unique depending on the circumstances, resources, and personalities of the people involved.  In today’s world, it is too complex to make generalizations about men and women. Regardless of gender, people can begin rebuilding their life by having compassion for themselves.

 

The Dalai Lama said, “If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.”

 

When you have compassion for yourself, you can have an amicable relationship with your ex-partner and a fulfilling connection with your children. How do you develop compassion for yourself?

 

  • Allow yourself to have ALL your feelings, ‘good’ and ‘bad’, without judging yourself for them.  What you resist often persists.  As strange as it sounds, allowing yourself to be angry is often the first step toward forgiveness.

 

  • Find healthy outlets.  You are going to have to replace old routines with new ones. If you find yourself doing something unhealthy when you are sad, worried, or angry, replace it with an activity you like or the company of a close friend.

 

  • Treat yourself to something that makes you feel good. Maybe you like to read the paper in bed, take your dog to the dog park, or go to the movies.

 

  • Give yourself a break! You may be ‘off your game’. Adjust your expectations of yourself and then communicate those adjustments to those who might be impacted.  They will understand.

 

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts!  What are your experiences with divorce or separation? What do you do to have compassion for yourself?

 

Shelly D. Mahon, Ph.D. Candidate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Program Director for Apart, Not Broken: Learn, Connect, & Create! You can sign up to take advantage of this free, online, multi-media program to help fathers adjust and parent after divorce or separation at www.DivorcedDadInstitute.com.   Shelly also has 20 years experience working with youth and families. Follow her blog at shellydmahon.wordpress.com