All of us want to be the best parents we can be. We want our children to feel loved and supported. We want to share with them their disappointments as well as their successes. When parents divorce, the family faces new challenges. Parents can feel overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable emotional and financial issues needing resolution. However, divorce does not excuse you from performing the most important job of your life: parenting your children. Much of the advice about co-parenting deals with your relationship with your former spouse. However, you alone can powerfully influence your children’s divorce experience. Here are three important actions you can take to help your children adjust to the transition from one household to two:
  1. Realize that it’s not about you. This is so critical that it bears repeating … it’s not about you! Your children need your love and support, especially during times of change. It’s your job to provide that love and support. If possible, choose a divorce process that keeps your children out of the middle. Do whatever is necessary to get over the reasons for the divorce. You will be a healthier person if you can find a way to let go of past resentments. If you need help doing so, find a good therapist and do the work. If you’re reluctant to do it for yourself, do it for your kids!
  2. Set a positive tone. Your attitude toward life is contagious and your children will “catch it.” Tune out our culture’s message that divorce is always bad for kids. Tune out the negativity expressed by well-meaning friends and family, who may be more than eager to share their stories. Work on reducing your reactivity to everyday situations through relaxation, mediation or yoga. Your kids are watching you to gauge how things are going. Show them that you’re all right. This doesn’t mean pretending that all is perfect. Life presents many challenges. Divorce can be an opportunity for you to model resiliency.
  3. Listen. Make time each day to be fully available to each of your children. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of normal, everyday life. This is especially true when you’re in the process of redefining “normal.” Turn off the TV and cellphones for a few minutes each day so that you have each other’s undivided attention. Encourage your child to share her feelings and experiences. Ask open-ended questions, which invite sharing without pressuring them. Regular check-ins will make it more natural for your children to express themselves when they experience problems.
Try to be mindful of these three suggestions. Remind yourself that how you accept situations in your life will influence your children’s resiliency in theirs.
Yoga - Tree poseWelcome! Namaste, as they often say at the beginning and ending of Yoga classes. If you are going through a divorce or separation, one of the best pieces of non-legal advice I can give you is to take up Yoga (or reengage with your existing practice with renewed determination). Now, you may be wondering: “What in the world is the connection between divorce or separation and Yoga?” Well, Yoga can help fight stress, depression and anxiety, among other health benefits, which are common health and wellness issues to address when you experience conflict in your life. As a Collaborative Practice Lawyer and Family Mediator, who works in the middle of family conflict on a daily basis, I have benefited from practicing Yoga as a means to reduce my stress level, to increase my resiliency to stressful situations and to improve my overall fitness level. If it works for the professionals you are working with, it could just as easily work for you. I recommend Yoga to anyone going through divorce or other family conflict or significant life transition.  Yoga just provides a nice mix of low-impact physical movement and increased stress resilience. There are many different types of Yoga, but in most western Yoga studios, Yoga practice is about connecting with your physical and mental self.  There is a focus on being mindful of your breathing and feedback from your body as you move through the poses or as you simply sit or lay still.  It often incorporates a portion of meditation practice that teaches us to observe our thoughts non-judgmentally which helps us further observe our physical reaction to our thoughts and feelings and, as a benefit, to feel less negative physical reactions to stress. To learn more about Yoga, you may want to check out your local Yoga studio(s), which you can find by Googling Yoga and looking through the local results.  Also look online at Yoga Journal.  I am a subscriber of Yoga Journal and have copies on-hand at my office for clients.  For my own personal practice, I’ve been very tempted to try out streaming online classes from, which has a huge selection of classes and has a very low monthly cost. It goes without saying that it is incredibly helpful to be able to maintain a sense of calm during tense discussions (yes, even in Collaborative Practice!) about important things such as parenting schedules for the kids and different options for dividing assets and debts.  What if you could do a better job of keeping your cool and keeping your focus on your long-term goals and concerns, instead of how mad you are about what your spouse just said? Give Yoga a try.  Namaste.