Rachel Menzoian, LPC
How Do I Parent Well Through Our Divorce?
Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Divorce is confusing for kids because they can feel pulled in different directions and feel pressure to choose one parent over another. Our job as parents is to unconditionally love our kids and encourage them to love both parents no matter how much we might dislike our ex spouse. Below are some tips on how to respond when your child opens up.
1. Engage: Put your phone down, take a break from your to-do’s and make eye contact.
2. Listen: Be quiet. It is super easy to want to defend, fix, or tell your side of the story. Don’t!
3. Empathize: What do you think your child is feeling right now? Reflect and then summarize what your child said and felt in your own words, or ask clarifying questions. Stay away from asking the question Why? Some examples might be:
“That must be confusing”
“That sounds overwhelming”
“What do you think?
“How do you feel?”
“Thanks for telling me.”
“You are feeling sad because..”
“What I hear you saying is..”
It can be difficult to respond when your child is talking about issues with the other parent and hearing things that may not be true. You may feel angry or hurt and want to set the record straight; however, that is not what your kids need. They need to feel safe and heard. They don’t want to have to choose sides or have to defend a parent. Remain neutral and loving. Then go to someone you can talk to express how you are feeling.