VIETNAMESE WOMEN NEWSPAPER | 11/08/2017
“We are getting a divorce.” Or “Your Mother and I are getting a divorce.” Or, “Your Father and I are getting a divorce.” These are words that no one would ever wish to say to their children, or hear someone else say.
Yet the reality for this current generation is that even against their best intentions, more and more couples are finding themselves saying these words. More and more couples are dealing with all the complications and emotions that divorce brings with it, and the upheaval it can emerge has become a daily reality for many families.
While this situation is something that couples wish to avoid, when these words have become a reality, and it is certain that there is no way to avoid divorce, it is very important to explore how to make this reality the best it can be for all those involved – the couple themselves, their children and all members of the extended family. So that everyone can move forward to live the best quality life possible.
Damage of Unresolved Negative Emotions
For all those involved, it is almost impossible to avoid negative emotions during the process of a divorce. Emotions such as deep sadness, anger, resentment, guilt, revenge, rejection, and jealousy are regularly experienced. If these emotions are not resolved or ‘healed’, and instead ‘grow’ inside us like an untreated ‘disease’, depression and crippling low self-esteem can result.
These negative emotions when expressed in negative behaviors, the atmosphere in the home environment becomes very heavy and ‘unhealthy’ to say the least. Couples may also develop the habit of expressing their unresolved resentment and anger through negative comments or even revengeful behaviors, which firstly bring unhappiness to their own minds, and secondly hurt the ones they love most, their children.
The heavy hurt in the heart of the child when parents dissonance. I
The Damage of Parents Negative Comments
In an extreme example of this was a recent experience of a high school student. He sadly shared that he felt if he was a ‘tool’ for his father to revenge his mother with. His father had told lies to him about his mother so that he would choose to live with his father. Then once the son was living with his father, his father began to revenge his mother. He knew that his former wife would suffer a lot if he hurt the son, so he would regularly beat the son, knowing that when his former wife saw that her son was beaten that it would cause her a lot of pain.
Revenging a former partner with by beating their children may be not so common, but making comments about a former partner is much more common and also hurtful and painful for their children to listen to and watch.
I still remember the faces of two children, a boy of around 8 years and a girl of 10 years, of my close friend who had recently divorced, as they heard their mother speaking negatively about their father. As they heard their mother speak badly about their father, they both looked up in surprise at their mother, and their little faces tightened up in deep sadness and sorrow.
They were both left sitting with little frowning lines of worry and concern on their little foreheads. This was their mother who they loved and trusted, saying bad things about their father who they also loved. They were left confused and painfully hurt by these comments that they were too young to understand or make sense of.
Such scenes can create a lot of confusion and deep pain in children, and are very far away from the safe, secure and loving environment that as children they deserve and is needed for them to grow up with self confidence.
Yet having said this, there are steps couples can take to reduce their emotional pain and the emotional pain of their children, and also help build a stable and secure environment for their children.
Young children need a sense of security and love for their personal and future development.
Image: Fahri Ramdani / Unplash
Resolving Negative Emotions
If you are going through a divorce, you can with determination and attention resolve negative emotions such as sadness, rejection, fear and anger so that your words and behaviors towards your former husband or wife, at least tolerant and possibly even respectful to them.
When you achieve this, you yourself are the first to benefit as you free your mind from the burden of negative emotions, and secondly, your child will feel a big relief from the burden of your heaviness and secure.
Writing in a diary or notebook, instead of simply thinking about the situation is much more effective. So take a pen and notebook and give yourself time to gently and slowly work through the following steps. It may take several hours and you may need to go through the steps more than once, but it can save your health, your peace of mind, your children’s happiness;
Accept the emotions you are feeling as part of the huge change you are experiencing in your life. For example you may speak to yourself in this way and also write it down: I do not want this situation in my life, I do not like it… but it is part of my life and my life story… I accept this situation… I accept this major life change… I accept that I am moving into a new scene in my life… I accept.
Understand the emotions you are feeling and name them and write them to yourself, ‘I am feeling fear and anger,’ or ‘I am feeling sadness and loss.’ Each time I feel a negative emotion I understand the emotion and I write it down…
The reasons you are feeling these emotions; and again name them and write them to yourself. For example, “I am so sad because my children will have to experience living with two separate parents in two separate homes”. Or “The reason I am feeling afraid is I feel I will lose my role or lose my prestige.” may be fear of change, feelings of rejection, feelings of guilt etc. and that these emotions are natural responses to one of the biggest challenges we have faced in our lives.
Breathing in Calmness and Breathing Out the Negative Emotions. Practice taking deep breaths. As you breath in take the air down to your lungs and let your stomach expand as it fills with air each time you inhale; I am breathing in calmness… and I am breathing out negative emotions... Letting these negative emotions go into the past where they belong. Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to until you feel lighter and that you have let go of some of the negative emotions.
Rebuilding Your Self Value And Self Respect – To know that although an important role I have played as a husband or wife is coming to an end, I am still very much needed in my role as a parent and, in time I will add other valuable roles to my life. It is important to speak to yourself with a lot of love, kindness and appreciation. To reflect on your strengths and your unique qualities and to take care of your mind and health.
Again write to yourself and write about your value, your uniqueness and your strengths for example; ‘I know the role of wife/husband in this relationship is coming to an end. I have accepted that although I may not of wanted this, this is the reality. I am now moving into new roles and they will bring their own happiness and opportunity.
I step forward and appreciate my strengths of kindness, love, courage etc. I know that I have value beyond this divorce and beyond this relationship. I remember I had a positive life before I got married and following this divorce I will also live a life of quality.”
It is possible that after you have completed the above a-e steps you may need to do it again several times to continue to clear the negative emotions. You may also want to keep a diary and regularly write to yourself. In time you can step forward less burdened by the painful emotions and begin to bring new positivity and value into our lives.
Parents need a way of comfort and explanation appropriate for their child's age.
Explaining our divorce to our children
These steps to resolve our emotions will support us in explaining our divorce to our children calmly and clearly in the best way possible. Diane Tillman, Psychologist and Author of the highly popular Living Values Education Program series and “Parenting with Peace, Love and Wisdom”, suggests that parents explain in an age-appropriate way to their children why they are divorcing.
For example, “Mommy and Daddy are not getting along any more. I am sure you have heard us fighting a lot. We are going to live separately so we do not continue to hurt each other more. We both love you very, very much and we will both spend time with you.” She also adds that it is important to reassure the children that it is not their fault.
After explaining to our children about the divorce, make sure you spend time to listen to them and play with them on a daily basis both in the morning and evening. Diane says it is important before the children go to bed at night, to all share what you are grateful for about that day – the positive things or you did or what you enjoyed about the day.
If your children say they miss their father/mother, accept and acknowledge that and listen to their feelings. Say, “Of course you miss your Daddy/Mommy. I am sure he/she misses you too when he/she doesn’t see you every day. I miss you when I don’t see you every day. Please remember that, both of us love you very much and always will.”
Finally, Diane also advises couples to pledge to NEVER speak badly about each other in front of their children.
As hard as it may be to honor this, if we practise this exercise of resolving negative emotions, it becomes easier to do and this is a gift of great value to both our children and ourselves.