Divorce Tips: "What About the Kids?"
By Susie and Otto Collins
"What about the kids?"
This is a question that probably weighs heavily on the mind
of anyone considering getting a divorce.
You might worry how upset or heartbroken your child or
children might be if you and your spouse split up.
If you have already made the decision to get a divorce, you
might be grappling with daily struggles of how best to
support your kids while you try to handle a myriad of
difficult decisions and transitions.
We believe that it is important to consider your child or
children in the midst of a divorce.
They will undoubtedly be affected by these changes and the
emotional upheaval in those around them-- as well as within
But too often, parents put the bulk of their attentions on
their children's needs (or assumed needs) and they neglect
their own needs.
This truly doesn't help anyone involved.
The end result in cases like this is usually a parent who
lashes out and "melts down" because he or she is so consumed
with helping the kids handle the divorce, his or her own
needs are neglected.
Conversely, a parent may have the best of intentions keep
the kids out of the middle of the
angst or upset going on with the other parent but the kids
are dragged into the fray nonetheless and not emotionally
supported in the process.
Either way, nobody wins!
The Gosselin family, who is the focus of the reality
television show "Jon and Kate Plus 8," are most likely going
through pushes and pulls right now as the parents go through
a highly publicized divorce.
Yes, they have the luxury of nannies and other child care
assistants, but it's probable that all involved are feeling
the strain of the divorce.
Jon and Kate Gosselin have decided upon a less conventional
approach to help their children with this life change,
Rather than moving their 8 children from one home
to another every other week or weekend-- depending on the
custody agreement that is reached-- it is the parents who
The Gosselin children will not have multiple homes, each of
their parents will.
This arrangement might not be practical or desirable for all
families going through a divorce.
There is a certain level of cooperation and flexibility
between the parents that is required.
But it is an example of divorcing parents who
are willing to try different possibilities to help their
whole family ease through this transition.
Reach for balance
As you go through the divorce and you long to help your
children cope, remember to reach for balance.
There will probably be occasions when intense emotions arise
Don't stuff them down or promise yourself you'll deal with
them another day so that you can "be
strong" for your kids.
Instead, arrange for a sitter or find something your kids
can do safely and independently for awhile so that you can
take the time to be with your emotions.
On the other hand, you might recognize that your child is
having a really tough day and seems to need you more than
Be open to changing your plans and make yourself
available for an extra hug or a special outing.
These might feel like unsure times for all of you. Honor
your needs and stay clued in to what your kids need as well.
Be honest and open with your children-- without dumping on
them or weighing them down with details that might be
Communicate about what you are willing to do
for them and ask for extra help and support when you need
Even the youngest child can give a hug just as even the
oldest teen might want a hug.
Look for possibilities
Just as the Gosselin family came to an agreement about
living arrangements that might not be the norm, be on the
lookout for new ways to help your family through this time
Again, the living arrangements the Gosselins are trying out
might not be a fit for you and your situation.
The point here is to stay open and consider all possible
You might initially reject a particular scenario only to
realize that it could ease the way for all of you.
Try not to harden or become rigid about anything. You can
listen to an idea that your ex proposes and take time to
sort out your feelings about it.
It might end up being a great solution that will work for
you as well-- or it might not be something that you choose
to go along with.
Above all, be gentle with yourself and be gentle with your
Know that keeping the connection strong with your
children is vital. Also know that staying tuned in to your
own needs is vital.
You don't have to choose one over the other-- there is room