Parents: Don’t Overlook Your Child’s Reaction To Your Divorce!

Parents: Don’t Overlook Your Child’s Reaction To Your Divorce!

the emotional toll of divorce on children

Be aware of the emotional toll of divorce on children!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC:

Parenting is always complex. Parenting following a divorce can add many other layers of distraction and confusion to the mix. That makes it even more important for parents to be aware of how their children are responding to the divorce.

Misunderstanding your child’s stage of development

One common error parents make is misunderstanding their child’s stage of development. That can lead to irrational and unrealistic expectations. Too often parents will assume that their child has a better handle on their emotions and a deeper understanding of human nature than is really possible at their age. So when their child acts out or otherwise misbehaves, it’s easy to misinterpret their intentions.

Parents mistakenly see children, even teens, as little adults who bring adult reasoning and comprehension to daily circumstances. With that mindset, it’s easy to get disappointed when your child’s behavior doesn’t live up to our expectations.

Recognize their limited emotional awareness

When divorce enters the family dynamic we often forget that our children are processing their feelings with limited skills and emotional awareness. We all know the complexities of divorce can become an enormous challenge for adults. Imagine the ramifications on youngsters or even teens!

Give your kids a break. How unfair (and unrealistic) is it to expect your children to fully understand what Mom and Dad are going through? Equally absurd is expecting children to respond with compassion. Emotional maturity doesn’t fully develop until humans are well into our twenties. Yet divorced parents frequently put the burden on their children to be empathic, understanding and disciplined in their behavior. This is especially surprising when parents struggle to access those mature attributes themselves.

Teens need your additional attention

Parents are often especially misguided in their expectations about teens. By nature, teenagers are very self-absorbed. They don’t yet have the full capacity to put others’ needs ahead of their own. In addition, most teens are not very future focused. Nor are they motivated by fear of consequences. Part of the parenting process is to role model positive behavior. It’s also important to demonstrate the advantages of setting goals, planning ahead for the future, etc. But that doesn’t mean your teen will embrace these lessons.

Unrealistic parental expectations lead to needless conflicts with our teens. Battles can easily result in a sense of confusion, insecurity, guilt or shame within their fragile psyches. Why get angry at your teen for not displaying adult maturity at a time when your own maturity may certainly be in question?

By understanding your children’s stages of emotional development as they grow, you are less likely to make mistakes you’ll regret. Among the biggest mistakes is confiding information they can’t psychologically handle. Another mistake is asking them to play the role of mediator, therapist, or personal spy. You’ll be more likely to have a better relationship with them and be less disappointed when you allow your child to behave as the child they still are!

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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books and e-courses on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Doing Co-Parenting Right: Success Strategies For Avoiding Painful Mistakes! go to:

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© Rosalind Sedacca  All rights reserved.

5 Steps To Better Communication With Your Children – For A Better Divorce Outcome!

5 Steps To Better Communication With Your Children – For A Better Divorce Outcome!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

During and after divorce your children may be hyper-sensitive about

many things. What may have formerly been routine conversations,

questions or activities can now be touchy subjects fraught with

anxiety, resentment or ager. This is understandable when you

consider that the stability of the world they knew has been

dramatically altered. Minor insecurities can easily grow into major

problems. Children may regress in their behaviors and skills,

become more clinging – or more aloof – depending on their

adaptability and perspective about the divorce.


This is a time to master the art of good parent/child communication

so you can reinforce or rebuild trust, security and confidence that

things will be okay again – despite the changes inflicted by your



Here are some solid tips for more effective communication with your

children. Master them today and they will work on your behalf for

years and years ahead.


Make privacy a priority!

Keep your conversations private – at times when others are not

around. This assures a more relaxed connection, more intimacy and

safety. Your child is more likely to open up and confide their real

feelings when they know they have your full attention. That means

close the computer, put down the phone, turn off the TV and let

your child know you are interested in what they are feeling and saying.

Be sure to determine whether it’s best to be talking to one child alone or

several children together.


Listen attentively!

Listen carefully to get the gist of what they are saying, even if

you don’t like the message. Don’t interrupt or correct them as they

speak. You’ll have your turn, but if they don’t feel “heard” you

are likely not going to have another chance at real communication.

Here’s where “active listening” skills are a real plus: paraphrase

back what you think you’ve heard, look directly at them, and nod

your head to show you’re listening. Then ask if you got the message

right after you’ve repeated it.


Don’t jump to judgment!

Focus more on what happened rather than “why.” Allow the entire

story to be told or all their feelings to be shared without jumping

to judgment. You can still parent, explain your values, and support

your decisions while not minimizing your child’s right to their own

“take” on things. Also remind your child that they are loved and

accepted, despite what they think or have done. You can reject the

behavior without rejecting the child.


Communicate respectfully!

Avoid the lectures, the smug ”I told you so’s,” the moralizing

put-downs or other forms of embarrassing your children, especially

if others are around. Instead, offer constructive ways to remedy the

situation when possible. Brainstorm together. Remind your child

that not all challenges can be neatly resolved or agreed upon by

all parties. This can be a valuable life-lesson for them shared

with empathy, compassion and insight.


Praise the positive!

While it’s often easier to provide negative feedback, try to end

your communication in a positive tone. This will encourage

additional conversations and their willingness to confide in you

again when things are not going well. Find something you can praise

in their behavior or their communication so they feel valued and



Remember, divorce imposes changes within the family

that your children never asked for. With these thoughts in mind

you’ll deepen your relationship with your children at a time when

they need it most!


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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC, is founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network

and author of the internationally acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about

the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love!

The ebook provides expert advice that helps parents create a unique

personal family storybook that guides them through this difficult transition

with optimum results. To learn more, visit:


For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies

For Getting It Right! and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues,

go to:


© Rosalind Sedacca  All rights reserve