It turns out–yes. Parents can. No matter the difficulty or range of issues causing divorce, parents have the power to work through them in a way that helps children not only survive–but grow stronger in the process. It all depends on how they treat each other.
To ensure the best possible outcome for your children, follow three steps.
1) Consider–what traits do you want to define your children as adults?
- Trusting of others
When we ask clients this question–these are the most common answers we get. As you consider your children, what traits would you choose?
2) Reflect–do you model these?
- At your workplace? Do you treat co-workers or employees with the same values you want to see in your children?
- In the grocery? How about the cashier–or the mom with crying children ahead of you in line? As your children watch you interact with strangers, what traits define those interactions?
- With the other parent?
Children become what they live. The way you conduct yourself on a daily basis will define how your children conduct themselves. Moreover, children cling most tightly to the values they see parents use in the toughest moments. They intuitively know that those values matter most because they guide life when it counts the most. Second only to losing a spouse or child to death, divorce ranks as one of life’s toughest moments. Children are watching to see how you get through this.
The way you handle this crisis and the other people in it will define how they handle their crises and the other people in their life.
3) Choose–become what you want to see in your children. And. . .be that person when engaging the other parent.
Dr. Tim Gardner, well-known speaker on family relationships, notes, “Who you are when you’re angry–that’s who you really are.” Look at the list of traits you desire for your children. When you’re angry at the other parent–are you these? Are you still kind? Are you still respectful? Are you still Christ-like?
It matters. Because divorce changes kids. And how you act through this divorce, especially toward their other parent, will define who they become.
So. . . . . . .what do you want your children to be like as adults? How can you be that person for them–now?
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