Parents have kids, parents get divorced and parents start talking negatively about the other parent in front of the kids. We all know nobody is perfect and we can’t expect ourselves to be. But it’s critical to have awareness around what the impact is to the children when parents either put the kids in the middle of their battles or openly judge each other in front of their kids. The children are the casualty.
We have to be clear what is appropriate and not appropriate for our children’s ears. Naturally there is pain for everyone involved when a separation occurs in a family. The very foundation of what the children knew to be their world is ripped in different directions. The reality is, life is inherent with stress and pain and we all grow up with our woundings, but as parents, it’s not always easy to maintain awareness around the effect we have on the little ears around us.
While you may think that talking poorly about your ex-wife or ex-husband is a way of clarifying the world for your children, it more often than not leaves them confused, defensive and sinks them deeper into their suffering. Was that your intention? Probably not, but that was likely the effect.
There are certain things that are healthy for kids to know about and certain things that are not.
Whether we're married or divorced as parents we’re imperfect. We blurt things out because we’re in pain, because we’re so angry we want to get back at our ex-partners, because we’re so stressed that our defenses are down, because we’re simply ignorant to the consequences.
If you resonate with this it may be time to bring some mindfulness into your parenting. What does that mean?
- It means reminding yourself to take a breath and consider the effects your words have on your children before letting them out.
- It means paying attention to your feelings as they arise in your body instead of reacting to them with behaviors that aim to avoid or resist the feelings.
- It means being kind to yourself, taking responsibility and practicing forgiveness when you do something that was unskillful, potentially inadvertently causing your child pain.
- It means apologizing when you’ve made a mistake, modeling this for your children.
- It means increasing our emotional intelligence.
Why not make this time now?