Friday, November 5, 2010

Challenging Times - Working Together through Divorce

Divorce is stressful, sad and confusing for everyone. No matter what age the child, they will feel uncertain about what is happening and may feel angry. Mom, Dad and Nanny can work together to ease fears and provide the stability children are seeking.

What to tell the children and when to tell them is often the first concern of parents. Your nanny can be helpful in supporting this process. Planning what you say and timing it makes this difficult time a little easier. Give an honest, child appropriate, explanation. Be truthful in answering “why” and keep it simple. Children don’t want or need long explanations. Emphasize your continued care and love. They may worry that this will change everything in their lives, including the care and love from their nanny. Assure them that their daily lives will stay consistent as much as possible.

Obviously, there will be changes in the family’s life and routine. Clarify those changes simply and to the point – they want to know how this decision will affect them. When Mom and Dad
present a united front, are respectful of each other and have the conversation planned, the children will feel less stressed. Children are sensitive to the atmosphere in the home and notice when parents are unhappy, frustrated or angry. Acknowledging their insights and observation honestly will help them adjust.

Maintaining good communication with your nanny is vital. Children may be coming to her for reassurances or with questions. You’ll want to talk with your nanny about how these issues can be handled in a way that is best for your family. Maintaining a stable, consistent routine for children during any difficult time is important but even more so when going through a divorce.

Children should never be used as a “go between” in communicating with parents. If they see that you are being respectful of each other they will feel more secure. Children can feel they need to choose between parents – take their side. This is a lessened when they see everyone is being treated well. Along those same lines the children’s nanny should be put in a position to choose between parents either. Their role is to remain a consistent, caring presence for the children. That’s best achieved when they can communicate with both parents equally.

Maintaining routines that children can count on is important – even if mom and dad each have different ones. Children can adjust to each routine if it remains consistent. Again, your nanny can help smooth out the necessary transitions and be the facilitator between homes.

My Story: I was told privately that the parents had decided to divorce. They wanted me to be present when telling the children so that everything was open during that difficult conversation. They handled it so very well by keeping explanations simple and straightforward, answering questions honestly and clearly, clarifying the changes and what would remain the same. The children did have immediate and very different emotional reactions. We all allowed them to express those feelings without interference. Their first question was – “Will our nanny still be caring for us?” The parents reassured them I was continuing caring for them just as before and that their daily routines would remain as regular as possible. Over the years wounds were healed and relationships strengthened. Keeping communication as open as possible was very helpful. They respected my decision not to “take sides.” I felt that to do the job, to care for their children, I needed to be able to work with both of them. It wasn’t always easy but we all got through it. The three children are well adjusted, bright young adults who know their parents love them.

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