Dear Mom and Dad, What Kids of Divorce Wish They Could Tell You (A Parenting Guide for After Divorce)

Dear Mom and Dad, 

When you tell me mean things about each other it hurts my feelings and changes who I am.

While you may have legitimate reasons to not like your Ex, talking to your kid about them hurts them and can change who they are and how they feel about themselves.  They are one half of both of you and while you may wish that were not true, it is reality.  Criticizing, telling unsavory tales, sarcastically joking about them and/or their choices has the impact of telling your child those same things about themselves.  That is how it feels.  Save the frustration, anger, negativity and judgement for discussions with adults, your own therapist, divorce attorney etc. For more connection to other parents try TODAY Parenting Team

child support, divorce, parenting, therapy

Dear Mom and Dad, 

I just want to be a kid. Please don’t talk to me about money or things I can’t control.

Talking to your kid about bills, loans, child support or the divorce process, is not their concern. Wheher you aren’t getting child support, you are paying for everything because you have to,  or you are paying for everything because  you can etc., is not something a child needs to know. Kids do not have control over finances. Putting the burden, worry or guilt on a child over something they don’t the tools to manage is unfair.  If you don’t have the money for something you can simply say, “I’m sorry I just don’t have it right now”.  They may cry, whine or ask why however, “I just don’t right now” is a good enough answer.  If they start to engage you in triangulation by talking about what the other parent does or does not do, do not engage in the conversation.  Eventually they will learn that, “I’m sorry I don’t have it right now” is the end of the conversation.  Similarly, if you just paid for clothing, field trips, special trips, bought them a puppy etc., (because you can) it shouldn’t become a source of comparison.  Buying kids things won’t make them love you anymore.  Try not to one up your Ex  by giving or buying stuff.  Kids need to learn feeling good comes from within. Feeling good comes in the form of connection, discussion, feeling seen and loved.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I want to spend time with you, just us.

Kids want and need special time with Mom and Dad, one on one. It can be challenging to arrange if you are divorced or if you have more than one child. However, it’s in these moments you can see parts of each other you didn’t know were there and strengthen your connection. Conversations on the way to the grocery store, singing along to songs on the radio and creating private jokes are priceless and make them feel special and seen. In addition, kids one on one without the distraction of other people to color the experience, can be a totally different person. Before you know it they will be grown and these moments will be gone. Take this time, it will increase their joy and yours.

child support, divorce, parenting, therapy

Dear Mom and Dad,

I really need you to be my parent and not my friend. 

As kids get older and start to show their personality and opinions as individuals it can be tempting to treat your kid like a friend. But they don’t need to know about your dates, your lizard boss, your body image issues or your sex life etc. Boundaries are important and by keeping super personal things to yourself it shows them where and with whom it is safe to share personal information. Your kids do not want to know about your dates or your dating profile. Really. Your kid wants something to connect with you about, and adult things are not it. That is not to say you can never be angry, sad or have a bad day. You can be all of those things and say how you feel, but all of the details are likely not something they need to know. They are looking to you to see how to manage life’s challenges and that includes leaning on you for support not the other way around.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Please come and celebrate my triumphs even if the other parent is there.

You may hate your Ex and not want to be in the same room as them. But guess what? Too bad! That’s right, your child’s recitals, graduations, games, broken bones etc. they need you both there, even if you hate your ex. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t honor your feelings and if the situation is unsafe that has to be taken into consideration. However, under typical circumstances your child’s feelings are more important. It is in these moments they internalize feelings of being backed up and supported that they will carry into adulthood. They need to know there are people who will be there no matter what and show up for them. We don’t all grow up feeling unconditionally loved, backed up etc.  I often see these unresolved emotions in therapy when they reach adulthood and it changes how people approach the world. If you don’t have the feeling of being backed up, whole and complete, it can lead to insecurities, anxiety and sometimes depression.

child support, divorce, parenting, therapy

Show up, be present, applaud hold their hand, tell them everything will be ok, you believe in them and they are loved. It will fill their hearts and give them more to bring to the world. 

Parenting is not easy. It is one of the hardest jobs in the world and can be made even more challenging by divorce. It can be your greatest joy at times and at other times bring you to your knees. Try to hold onto the idea that it is just this moment, this minute, this day, looking too far into the future can take away the joy of right now and create anxiety over things you cannot control. It is ok to make mistakes, and it is a guarantee that you will. Own your mistakes, accept them, admit them and apologize to your kids if you need to. Just keep trying and loving.

If you need help with the challenges of parenting after divorce contact me at 203-871-1540 or email info@taratherapyct.com
therapist, psychotherapist, professional counselorTara is a licensed professional counselor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor and certified yoga teacher. She has worked in behavioral health for over 16 years and currently has a private practice in West Hartford, CT. Her writing has been featured in Wallingford Connecticut Magazine, she is a contributing writer on practiceofthepractice.com and she is a regular contributing guest on Radio 103.5FM WNHH “The Culture Cocktail Hour”. Having learned from personal experience she is passionate about helping women heal from the past and embrace their future. To find out more about Tara visit:

Twitter: @TaraTherapyCT

photo credit to pixabay.com

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