When parents get an alert from Social Judo that tells them their child is talking about something as serious as divorce, one of two things can happen: either the adults in charge seize the parenting opportunity, or they go into panic mode themselves.
Brendan from upstate New York
“I use Social Judo and I got an alert that my 12-year-old daughter was talking about divorce. My wife and I are talking about separating but have not told our kids anything, and truthfully, we do a really good job of keeping our problems away from the kids. How should we handle talking to her about it?”
Brendan, first and foremost, your kids know more than you think they do. I am so glad you got an alert because now you have the parenting moment needed to talk to your daughter about what is happening between you and her mom. The fact that she already knows and you have not had a conversation with her is likely creating anxiety for her. Follow these rules and you will get through the tough talk with your daughter, and hopefully, you will regain her trust.
4 Rules When Talking About Divorce
- Start the conversation with something that validates what she already knows and assure her that it is NOT her fault. “You might already know that mom and I have been having problems, but what we need you to know is that our issues have nothing to do with you, we love you, and that will never change.”
- Own what has happened. Your daughter is looking to you for honesty. “Your mom and I weren’t sure how to tell you and I am sorry we waited so long.”
- Stop Talking! You have said all you need to for right now. Check in with her, ask open-ended questions which will help you get more than a yes or no response. “Do you have any questions you want to ask me?”
- If she says no, leave it alone for now. You don’t want to flood her with too much information. If she does have questions, be honest, but if you get stumped, it is ok to say, “I am going to think about that and I will get back to you in the morning.”
Two Rules On What Not To Say To Your Child
As a therapist, I can tell you that these next two tips, if you follow them, will save your relationship with your child when divorce is on the table. In fact, if you follow these two rules it might just make your relationship with your children stronger.
Parents, as adults, how does it feel when someone pokes fun of your mom for always giving her adult child advice? How does it feel if a friend comments about your dad and his painstakingly long stories? Not good right?
Never, ever, not in a million years should you disparage your child’s other parent. This will always backfire and your child will learn, as they mature, that you are in fact, the unsafe parent. Your child will lose respect for you in a quick minute. You are both her parents and regardless of what you have done to each other, your child loves both of you and always will.
Never, ever, ever say, “You are just like your father/mother” because the translation that your child absolutely understands is, “I hate your mother/father and you remind me exactly why.” This will inevitably create a sense of insecurity and anxiety in your child.
If Brendan did not get an alert from Social Judo he would have been in the dark about his daughter’s struggle with the divorce. Instead, he now has an opportunity for an honest and real conversation about her concerns and worries.
Smartphones and social media are causing plenty of harm to many families across the globe, but smarter parents are using Social Judo to reclaim parenting moments and to decrease the risks that accompany the awesome advances in technology that we all get to enjoy.
The time is here. You can be a smarter parent.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.