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Navigating Divorce: Tackling Difficult Conversations with Grace

During this transition, your emotions are so strong and heightened because you care so much about your family. You are deeply invested in this situation. It's hard to think rationally.The difficult conversations that you have can be more difficult or less difficult, but that is up to you. It's hard to make the best choices. And all of this is going to lead to a lot of difficult conversations.

When Dad texts you and asks if he can take one of the kids on a Sunday, for a special one on one with him, and in the same text, he lets you know, all of the things you're doing wrong, or some way of parenting that he doesn't agree with. It would otherwise be perfectly reasonable if you react and say, “Don't talk to me like that!” And, “Hell no, you can't have Bobby for the Sunday when it's my weekend.”

But an alternative that I suggest is to embrace the moment with empathy. You can decide to say, “Sure. Bobby would love that. Thanks for thinking of him. The one-on-one time would be wonderful.” Keep the importance of that relationship front of mind, and the importance of it to the development of your children as the main focus.

There will be moments such as when you get to your lawyer's office and they throw a whole bunch of documents at you, and papers that you don't understand. And then they want to come up with a parenting plan and try to instruct you that money is going to be divided here. And money needs to go there. I mean, these conversations are brutal.

It is important to consider the effect of how it would help if you went in with a plan. Think, okay, if I don't understand something, I'm going to pause. I'm going to ask to take it home, so I can take a look at it. I'm going to ask questions. Prepare yourself for the difficult conversation that's coming up in the lawyer's office. I can remember being really organized, walking up to my lawyer's office, getting into the meeting and it was like a fog came over me and I couldn't think straight. I couldn't focus.

All I could think about was losing my kids, how all of this was ruining their lives. How was I going to have enough money to live? How is it going to play out? Where was I going to live? Inevitably, I was in a complete fog for so many of those moments. Rest assured, your emotions will likely get in the way of having a rational conversation. Because of all these reasons, it is crucial that you plan properly for all of those difficult conversations

What about when your baby looks at you and says, “Mommy, please, please let Daddy come home?” “Mommy, please, please don't get divorced, stay married.” What are you going to say? Believe it or not, there is a simple plan for this. Grab them, hold them tight, hug them. Let them know that you love them more than anything in the world. Daddy loves them more than anything in the world. That will never change. This is not their fault. And love, love, love. Repeat this step often.

You can plan to have these conversations and you can talk them out. Practice speaking to yourself in the mirror. Talk to a friend. You can work them out before they happen. What about when the teacher calls and says, “You know, your son is more disruptive lately in class? He seems to be emotional. He seems to be not focusing.”

What kind of conversations are you going to have with your son? Are they going to come from love? Are they going to come from anger? What emotions are you going to bring to those conversations? It's fear. That fear and all of the emotions that you're feeling that get in the way of being able to speak rationally and clearly.

And it's a lack of planning. Continue to think about your future and how you envision that. Know what your vision is and know where you're headed with your family, and understand the new dynamic of your family, and the relationship that you wish to keep with one another. If you know your vision of your future family relationship. Be aware of who you need to be now to make that vision a reality and create that family that you want.

I can remember when I was first transitioning through divorce, I decided to only say nice things about Dad. When I spoke to him in person or on email or texting, I did my best to always think of him as my best buddy.

I would treat him no less than I would treat the clerk at the grocery store. And that's how I looked at it. There are clearly reasons I would try to treat him better than that. I would try to treat him better than the clerk at the grocery store. But no worse than that.

That is one of the mindsets that really helped me to keep my eye on the ball, keep my focus on the vision of my future. I cannot stress enough the importance of staying focused on what was important for my boys and the relationship that they needed to have with myself and with their dad. In hindsight, I can point to this as being one of the most important tools for ensuring the healthy development of my children through this treacherous time.

I want to present you with a challenge today, right now, to text or phone one of your children or their other parent and say something kind, loving and grateful. It can be anything short, some small message. Something as simple as “Thanks for being there, Dad.”, or “Thanks for the other day for dropping them off”. Just think of one nice thing to say to their other parent and to them. Spread a little grace over these moments with the well being of your family in mind, and trust that the effects will be priceless.

Shoot that text off now and then make this a way that you're going to have conversations going forward.

And until next time here's to youfirst!




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