Four Tips for Talking with your Friend’s Kids about the Divorce

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One of the most difficult storms a child can face in life is divorce. Common emotions experienced are powerlessness, shame, anger, fear, anxiety, insecurity, confusion, sadness and sometimes even relief. The support you offer to your friends kids as they go through this tempest can be priceless. Here are some ideas for offering helpful connection and empathy for your friends kids during this difficult time.

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  • 1. Four Tips for Talking with yourFriends Kids about the DivorceName of Piece (01.08) 1by Nancy Schornack on SupportinaSplit.comOne of the most difficult storms a child can face in life is divorce. Common emotions experienced are powerlessness,shame, anger, fear, anxiety, insecurity, confusion, sadness and sometimes even relief. The support you offer to yourfriends kids as they go through this tempest can be priceless. Here are some ideas for offering helpful connection andempathy for your friends kids during this difficult time.Keep It Real. Sometimes in our effort to help kids feel better, we tell them what to think or feel, for instance, tellingthem that divorce is not their fault. While this is an important truth, they may need to have conversation more thanpersuasion to help them get this from their heads to their hearts. A thoughtful prediction such as, I am wondering ifyou think you did anything to cause the divorce, may be helpful. Imagine their relief when they hear you put words towhat they may be afraid to voice. By predicting we are saying, No need to pretend here. We can talk about whatsreal and hard. It also communicates that you are willing to ask them good questions, listen and talk things through.Keep It Respectful. Keep your comments about both parents respectful. Take the high road remembering that yourfriends kids need to maintain relationships with both parents. If the child complains about either parent, rather thanjoining in, offer empathy. For example, if a child is criticizing her parent because he or she didnt come to her soccergame, you can empathize by saying, Im really sorry that your parent didnt make it. I know it means a lot for you tohave them see you play and I bet that is really disappointing to you. You can join with the childs feelings withoutjoining with criticism towards the parents.Keep It Reassuring. When you listen and offer empathy, you lay the groundwork for generous reassurance. Divorcecan create strong feelings of unworthiness and loneliness. Nothing makes a child feel better than to see youconsistently show up with delight in your eyes and words that communicate: You are not alone in this. The way youfeel right now is normal. Im staying on this journey with you. We are going to make it through this. There are betterdays ahead. Maintaining a sense of hope and connection will be two of the most valuable possessions for a child tohave while they are navigating their parents divorce.Keep It Recreational. These conversations are caught, not taught and will happen in the midst of quality time spenttogether. Kids are most likely to talk with a ball in their hands, a game on the table or a crayon at their fingertips. Youmay find that they can better express themselves with music, poetry, art or toys. Creativity and play create a sense ofworthiness and movement helps words flow. Most of all, time spent in their world will communicate care, enjoymentand security.The clouds of divorce can be dark and tumultuous. The child who has a friend like you to come along side and listen,empathize, reassure and play has found a precious silver lining.