Each month at our divorce workshop, a therapist discusses the emotional side of divorce. Topics include helping children cope and finding your self-esteem again. One of our presenters, Tina Lepage, shares these two divorce FAQs.
Q: How do I help my kids cope emotionally with the divorce?
A: Allow them to express their feelings and let them know it’s OK to feel angry, hurt, sad, and there are healthy ways to cope with their emotions. For example, it’s OK to feel angry, but it’s not OK to hit, scream, throw things, etc. In addition to telling them you love them, spend time one-on-one with each child to show them you are available to them. Use social supports to show your kids that there are other people in their lives who support and care about them. Finally, work as best you can on co-parenting.
Q: After a difficult separation, what is the first step in co-parenting?
A: The first and most important step in becoming productive and harmonious co-parents is disengaging from your ex emotionally. This can be exceedingly difficult; there can generally be a lot of stored pain, anger, hurt, and even affection. Further, there can be unresolved marital conflict, resentment, a desire for answers, or a desire to care-take the other’s feelings. All these things compel us to stay emotionally engaged as we search for the proper balance of closure and crafting a new life. Additionally, one’s spouse has typically been their main source of emotional support throughout much of their adult life, and it can be habitual to look to an ex for support. However, these conflicted roles make a separation more complex and more challenging, and it is best to avoid these roles as much as possible. Items that had been couples’ tasks (resolving anger, processing hurt, seeking and providing mutual support) now become an individual’s tasks. Disengaging emotionally means from the role of spouse, not from the role of co-parent. Work to create a new connection based on your roles as parents.
This information provided by Lepage Associates, Tina Lepage, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, CEO.