When a marriage is in crisis it is one of the most challenging times you may face in a lifetime. Children learn from what they see modeled around them. The confusion of parents in disagreement can be unsettling, to say the least. But it is the tension, the uncertainty, which sharpens everyone’s attention in the family. At times of crisis, you can teach your children valuable, lifelong lessons. You want to make sure the lessons you teach are the ones you intend.
- Reassure the child that although there is disagreement, the adults will handle it and the child will be ok. Pretending there is not tension is not good for anyone.
- Handle the conflicts out of earshot of child.
- Stop and think before you speak. If you are upset you are not at your best for constructive problem solving. Take at least 20 minutes away, not thinking but cooling off with distraction and activity (walking the dog, listening to a CD, watching birds in yard) to reset your own ability to address concerns with a clear mind.
- If it is possible to do so, meet with child together to relay outcome of problem solving. “Your Mom and I didn’t think the same about this, but we agreed to do it this way for now. We tried to understand each other first, listened, and then came up with this. We hope if you and your brother disagree you can try and listen – you might need time to cool down first- and then decide what the two of you can live with for now so you can get back to doing what you want.”
- Sometimes the resolution is to end the marriage. It is rarely a first option, and it is after exhausting many attempts at problem solving, with and/or without help. It is up to you as parents to make clear that ending a marriage is different than ending a family. You are their forever parents.
If we can help anywhere along the way, please call NFRC where our hope is in helping families be strong and healthy as they grow and change.
Contact us – www.nfrchelp.org – 410-740-9553