I think most of us will agree that conflict, arguments, disagreements or whatever you want to call them, are indeed part of “normal” life in a home, however, conflict becomes an issue when children are exposed to it on a regular basis and where it involves both verbal abuse and physical violence.
One line I always recall hearing during my training in working with children of trauma is:
A child old enough to laugh, is old enough to experience trauma.
So for those parents who think a child is too young to understand what is happening you maybe seeking to protect yourselves, rather than the child.
Is it possible that it’s easier to think this way than actually deal with the issues at hand?
Keep in mind two things:
- You are not your child’s only influence so you’d better be the best
- A child who is exposed to violence changes who they are
If you’re engaged in a high conflict divorce then here are some things you could do in the hope of protecting your children:
- Only communicate through a third party if necessary. One lady I heard off, got someone to read through emails from her ex. This reader person would then relate back to her what had been requested in his mail omitting any unnecessary points that had been raised only for point scoring purposes.
- There are, fortunately, a million ways to communicate nowadays, email, text, whatsapp, mediation, solicitors (andno they are not all bad), letters and the list continues. If you don’t want to see one another, you really don’t have to.
- Just don’t slag your ex in front of the children, totally unnecessary. No one gains, not even you. The children might listen to you now and agree with you but in later years, it will come back to haunt you. Trust me.
- Get a mutual/public place to meet for the transitions between homes. If the children are old enough, school’s always a good place.
- Get you own adult sounding board. Your children don’t need to hear, know or be part of your arguments.
- Don’t involve your children in adult issues. You know what those issues are but your children don’t need to. Protect their innocence as much and for as long as you can.
If in doubt do speak with someone, your children will be very grateful for that, if not now, later.
Soila is the founder of The Divorce Magazine and creator of the online course – Helping Children Cope with Divorce
She is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families and is the author of “When Love is Broken. A read-together book for children and parents going through divorce and separation.
Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL (University College London), is an accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioner and a trained Family Mediator