BEING PRESENT TO OUR CHILDREN
It is not uncommon to waste the time we have with our children thinking about or being upset about our co-parent, or our situation. When we are upset, we are not present to our children. It is has been learned in recent years that the most important thing we can do for our children is be “present.” This means being tuned into them, paying attention to them, “feeling into” what they are experiencing. When we are in the throes of emotional upset, we cannot be present. More than anything, we want our children to be happy and healthy. Yet, when we get upset about what we imagine will hurt them (such as our ex) our distressed state of mind makes it impossible to do the one thing that would benefit them the most: BE PRESENT. There are many resources readily available to us to help us learn how to be present. One of the most important is learning “mindfulness” skills. Simply put, mindfulness is awareness of what we are experiencing in the present moment, which includes paying attention to our breath, thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. The more we are mindful, the more we will benefit our children, no matter what our ex does.
EXPLORE THE BELIEFS THAT DRIVE US
We are driven by many beliefs that we are often unaware of. One of the beliefs that drive divorce co-parents is that the ex is going to cause our children to be unstable or unsuccessful. I am not denying that the ex will influence our children. That is all the more reason for us to work on being stable ourselves, and present to our children. Given that there are many things that we cannot change about our ex, the best thing we can do for our children is provide an environmenthat is calm, grounded and secure. If children are brought up in two homes, one that is emotionally chaotic and unstable, and the other that is calm, grounded and stable, they will learn how to be calm, grounded and stable. If they grow up in two homes that are emotionally chaotic, they will only learn how to be emotionally chaotic. Acting out of the belief that your ex can ruin your children causes emotional distress that contributes to your home being unstable; be aware of these beliefs and shift yourself out of them.
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FOCUS ON WHAT’S GOOD
Many divorced co-parents have a great deal of guilt about the effect that divorce will have on the children. It is easy to focus on what is wrong and forget all the things that are right for your children. Train yourself to notice good moments. Good moments do not have to be extraordinary, they just have to be good. For instance, cuddling together at night, reading a story, feeling connected, enjoying a meal together, laughing about something funny. These feel good moments are extraordinarily important in building a life that feels fulfilling and becomes successful. The more you notice and feel good about these moments, the more they will come! When you are not with your children, imagine those moments and feel good about them. The more you feel good, the more you feel good! Your ex cannot take these moments or good feelings away from you and your children. Never underestimate the power of these moments or feelings in your children’s lives.