How parents can help kids through their separation.
One motivation for a parent to bring a child to talk to a counselor or therapist is when the parents are going through a separation or a divorce. Parents, aware of the conflict between them are often sensitive to the need of the child to have a neutral space to talk, to put things in perspective. It is this neutral space from which to respond to their child’s implicit or explicit questions which has been lost. The parents are at odds with each other, feel angry and hurt. The child picks up on these emotions no matter how good the parents try to hide it, and parents are often at a loss of how to speak about their emotions to the child without attacking the other parent whom they feel so hurt by.
An initial step would be for the parent to be aware of this underlying emotion, and to be able to name this emotion, acknowledge it. This will allow the parent to recognize it toward the child in a more neutral tone, without the underlying, for the child confusing affect. The child picks up on the underlying, diffuse anger that you are trying to hide, but if you can tell him as you are aware of your feelings you can say: ‘You know, I am very angry with your dad. We have a big disagreement, we are trying to work it out. I am sorry that I have been a bit short tempered, but our dad and I are working on it.’
Parents who are caught in a heated separation also tend to forget the good aspects about the ex, and the father of the child. And they might not realize that be painting this negative picture of the child’s other parent, they are at the same time painting a very negative picture of their child. Being able to acknowledge to your child your conflict, but also maintaining a space to talk about the positive aspects of the other parent will be an enormous support to the child.
Also being aware that you and the other parent share the same goal of nurturing secure children can be a common goal that allows you to connect, and transcend a space of hate and resentment.
Contact An to schedule an appointment at (530) 321-297