This post on promoting your child or children to express their feelings is by single-mom and brilliant writer Meredith Vogel who story has been featured on Dr. Oz and the voice behind the blog thecookiechrunicles.com. Thank you Meredith and enjoy ATCers!!
It is no secret that I did not want my divorce. It has taken a few years to recover to the point now where I can honestly say “it was for the best”. However, even though I truly feel I am better off not being married to my ex-husband, my son will never agree.
None of our children will agree that we are “better off” divorced. No child wants their parents apart. They don’t care what your side of the story is, and truthfully, those details aren’t any of their business anyway.
I recall the morning where I knew the divorce was really going to happen. I recall sitting on the couch in my den at around 5:00 am crying to myself, thinking that one day my little boy will have questions. The types of questions that I never wanted to have to answer. The very questions I tried so hard to avoid and part of the reason I held on for so long trying to save my marriage.
While I can never really explain to my son that I tried EVERYTHING to make his mommy and daddy’s marriage work, I do now have major explaining to do when he asks questions.
My son is now 10. I got away with saying and explaining very little up until this point. Now he is starting to question everything. The concept of the divorce is really starting to ignite his mind into wondering why the split happened, why we couldn’t stay together and the who’s, what’s, when’s, and why’s regarding HIS life as the child in a divorced family.
Along with his questions are his emotions. Sometimes he is upset about something going on at his dad’s house. When this happens, he will come to me with his feelings, his questions and seek out my answers.
So, how do we answer our children? It isn’t so simple, is it. We have to answer our children in such a specific way so that we almost remove our own emotions and anxieties to the point where we are an outsider in our own situation.
Nothing makes me more upset than seeing and knowing my child is upset. All I want is for him to be happy. I keep this in mind when I have to handle the situations that arise.
While every child and situation is different, I do believe that the following approaches are universal when helping children:
Validate their feelings. Sometimes we don’t have a solution and sometimes our kids aren’t even looking for one. Sometimes they just want to vent. Let them know they can talk to you, let them know it is OK to feel what they are feeling. Tell them you understand why they feel the way they do and that you are there for them no matter what.
Encourage them to write it down. You need not be a “writer” to enjoy writing. Writing allows you to release your feelings and emotions in a positive way. Getting your feelings out on paper or by typing helps to alleviate the burden you may be carrying. This works for kids as well. Take them to the bookstore, let them pick out a pretty journal or diary and encourage them to write their thoughts and feelings down. Explain to them that the journal is theirs and theirs alone; they need not share the information with anyone.
Let your children know that life isn’t perfect. Life really isn’t always fair. As much as we want to sugar coat everything for our kids and shield them from the evils of the world, we can’t. That isn’t reality and wouldn’t be helping our kids grow up as healthy, balanced people. Life happens. Things do happen. Surprises happen. The best we can do is keep the lines of communication open and help prepare our children to effectively balance anything and everything that life brings to us.
By Meredith Vogel author of thecookiechrunicles.com