Divorce with kids can be very challenging, being prepared is key to creating a better experiencing for all involved. To illustrate one pit fall of divorce with kids, I’d like to share this story with you:
Jordan seemed to be taking his parent’s divorce well. Jane and Simon were quite agreeable to the custody terms. Tuesday night’s Oliver, their six year old, had dinner and slept over at Simon’s house. One Tuesday, while they were having dinner Oliver told Simon that the previous night; he had to go to bed at 7pm and only got a peanut butter sandwich. This was concerning to Simon, as he knew that Jane was very busy and was dating again, he would need to take it further she was not able to take care of their son. Oliver forgot to tell Simon the rest of the story, he had thrown a temper tantrum, because he didn’t like what Jane had made for dinner. Jane was teaching him consequences for misbehaving, and not to be mean. Simon wanted to make Oliver feel better, so explained that his Mum was probably too busy to make dinner. Oliver had never heard this before and decided that he was getting in his mother’s way.
The next evening when Jane was putting Oliver to bed, he asked her if he was getting in her way. Surprised by this question Jane asked him why he thought that, and he replied that Simon had. Jane got angry and even though she tried not to show it, Oliver picked up on it, and decided that he must be a getting in his Mum’s way, and she was angry that she had been found out. Feeling alone and unwanted Oliver cried himself to sleep.
Later that week, when Jane saw Simon, he confronted her about not having time to take care of Simon. The discussion ended in an argument, name calling and threats. When Simon saw Oliver again, he was so excited to tell him about his trip to the fair, with a guy called Tom who stayed at their house. Simon was furious, now Jane was corrupting his son. Oliver forgot to say that Tom was the husband of Jane’s old school friend Sara, and she was staying over as well. While Oliver was playing outside, Simon called his brother to vent. Unfortunately, Oliver over heard some of the conversation, when Simon mentioned that if “she” continued this behaviour she will never see Oliver again. Oliver begins to act out every time he goes to his father and Simon blames Sara, because she is plotting against him, and yet again they get into an argument over custody, and more threats are made. The misunderstandings continue and eventually they head back to court and hate each other even more. The story is based on the experiences that many clients have experienced with their children and ex-partners. Divorce is a very stressful time for children their behaviour is driven from their need to feel safe. Younger children often remember and only relate the part of the story which is important to them. Depending on the circumstances a child may also blame a parent if they have done something which may bring them shame or guilt. Adolescents and older children are more aware of how they can manipulate the stories to get their way.
Be on guard that what you will often need to get more content and the context around their stories to ease the stress of divorce with kids.
If you would like discuss divorce with kids with me contact me to arrange a complimentary coaching session