Chapter Twenty-five: Your Children Need to see that You can Resolve Conflict
When we age, we reflect on our lives, and we pay special attention to what our parents taught us. We look to our parents to teach us basic life skills, how we should approach the world. Parents try, from day one, to teach children to live happy and healthy lives.
Regardless of the positive teachings we try to impart on our children, we also pass on our imperfections and our weaknesses or, as I like to say, our dysfunctional behaviors. Those exact dysfunctional habits are what our children, for some reason, gravitate toward. Therefore, it’s time to stop acting badly and time to start teaching your children better ways to solve problems.
You are engaging in dysfunctional behavior after your divorce if:
- You are fighting with your ex in front of your children;
- You are disparaging your ex in front of your children;
- You are telling your children about legal proceedings;
- You are telling your children about child support payments;
- You are telling your children that they do not have to visit their other parent if they do not wish to; or
- You hate your ex more than you love your children.
Be careful what you are teaching your children. Do you want your children to go through their own divorce? Do you want your children to live in a situation where they have continued conflict with their ex?
Your children can only learn from your dysfunctional behavior. Some of your children will believe that they should live with conflict. Some of your children will gravitate to relationships more contentious than the one you had. Those relationships may be emotionally or physically abusive. Any way you cut it, your children will suffer from your inability to communicate effectively with your ex.
Avoid conflict with your ex as much as you possibly can. Be flexible, negotiate and see if you and your ex can focus on your children’s needs. Remember that conflict between parent’s can only hurt your children.
It may be impossible for you to avoid conflict. It also may be impossible to keep your children away from the conflict you have with your ex. When you are faced with conflict try to be the bigger person and show your children how to handle adversity.