There are situations where divorce is valid. Even if your faith teaches otherwise, no one should ever stay in a marriage and be physically or severely mentally abused.
Leaving a marriage is never an easy thing to do. Even if you are leaving for the safety of yourself or your children (which is right), you can’t be prepared for problems unless you understand the consequences you might face. While safety and a better life trumps some of the complications, you will certainly want to add childhood confusion to your Decoder Map.
Divorce breeds major in-consistency issues. If you’ve read any of my blogs you know that consistency in parenting is mega-huge. Always be consistent in your parenting demands and always be consistent as a couple. It’s harmful to children in a happy marriage to be faced with parents or family members that aren’t consistent. When you divorce your spouse, the door is wide open for confusion, discipline problems and mental instability.
Your child may feel confusion about…
- Do my parents love me?
- Did I do something wrong?
- Why were my actions wrong before the divorce but right now?
- Feeling like a pawn tossed from parent to parent
- Parents relax the rules to retain the title of the “fun” parent
- Put on restriction for lying by one parent and laughed at by the other.
Navigating a divorce with children is definitely overwhelming. You can make several Decoder Maps to help you see the problem and design a plan to keep your children safe.
1. Make sure you have created a Decoder Map on your spouse. This map should center on the reasons you are no longer able to live with your spouse. It should be a private/personal map that isn’t shown to anyone but includes your pain, suffering and disappointment with the loss of your marriage. Often these maps will help you find solutions and be content with your decision.
For sure, putting all your pain in the Decoder Map will set you free to refrain from “spewing” anger about your spouse to your children. When a child thinks his parents have been loving for years – it’s hard for them to accept that it’s now a war. You create damaging confusion and pain when you “spew” anger about your spouse to your children.
2. Create a Decoder Map of your child’s actions. One side should contain information pre-divorce and the other side post-divorce. This map should help you determine if your child is having post-divorce stress.
3. Create a Decoder Map of how you plan to help you child with any “confusion” or stress they experience. Be creative in your solutions. If you can still talk with your spouse, perhaps you can define your plan together. If not – concentrate on a plan to “talk” with your child about each issue. Allow your child (5 and over) to be part of the process to determine how to “handle” conflicting parenting styles. Children going through divorce need lots of information and help to navigate this emotional time.