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This article is an excerpt from the book, Ten Commandments of Divorce. This article encourages people going through a divorce to take the time to move slowly, act with respect, and create a safe space for their children.
No matter in what environment a child is raised, I don’t believe anything can have more of a profound effect on their self-esteem than words. It is not just the words we use to address them that has the most impact; what we say and do to their other parent leaves just as deep an impression. It is so important to understand that how we handle ourselves and interact with our former spouse during the years of our divorce will influence our children for a lifetime. Realize that their little bodies contain DNA from both of you, which means when you put down or undermine a child’s mommy or daddy with insults or harmful adjectives, you alienate a part of them as well.
Although so many of us know the result of ex bashing, most of us are helpless to the flow of emotions that are released while we are going through the most horrific time in our lives. It was Dr. Wayne Dyer that said, “When you judge another, you do not define them. You define yourself.” This statement cannot be more appropriate for a divorce scenario. After all, when we trash our ex, we are also trashing our former life partner…the person we swore before God or Court to love, honor and cherish forever. What does it say about us as individuals, when we turn that love to disdain?
We know that anger and resentment help no one and hurt everyone, yet it seems to be the shortest distance from marriage to divorce. In my practice, I have found that people really don’t want to harbor such ugly emotions. As humans, however, we are unfamiliar with how to go from love to not in love without the negative bash in between. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. When we decide for the sake of our kids that love is the way to go, we can change the love partner into a parenting partner. We can turn the anger, sadness and pain into a personal resolution to create positive change for our future. We can keep the vows to love and honor our former spouse, because ultimately, we will be tied to them forever through our children. Why not find the good and make our family life an ultimate environment to raise those kids instead of a war zone only appropriate for mongers and haters?
If your life has taken you to the end of a marital journey, allow the new road you choose to be that of an incredibly healthy family unit. Even though the relationship didn’t work as husband and wife, it can still work as mother and father. One decision can make the difference…show love, speak love and feel love no matter how you really want to feel. Your kids were born from it. Keep showing them it will be there forever.