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Character Building: Divorce Stories and Strategies to Help Your Child Heal

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Divorced Parents: How Loving Parents Stop Child Brainwashing

By Jean Tracy, MSS

If you love your child more than you dislike your ex, you won't be bad-mouthing his other parent. Today we'll discuss two divorce problems from your youngster's point of view. We'll also offer 7 child reactions to divorce, a divorce checklist, as well as, 15 ways to love and help your child.

A Child's Divorce Story

Imagine a child named Lucas. His angry parents are divorced. When his mother drops him off at his dad's house, he's greeted by his step-mother. From the look on her face he gets the feeling that she wishes he hadn't come. His dad is outside playing catch with his older step-brother. Lucas doesn't know what to do.

He decides to go outside and say, “Hi.” They keep on playing catch. Lucas notices that his step-brother's mitt is brand new. His dad says, “Oh, is this the day you visit?”


1. If you were Lucas, would you feel an inner bruising?
2. Would you dread seeing your step-mom?
3. How would you feel about sharing a bedroom with a step-brother who receives gifts and plays catch with your dad?
4. How would you feel about your dad not remembering it's your special day together?
5. How welcome would you feel?


Let's say Lucas feels the weight of his mother's dislike for his dad and especially his new wife. She repeatedly tells Lucas how his dad spends money on his step-son and new wife but fails to pay alimony on time. If you were Lucas,


1. Would you wonder if your dad really loved you?
2. Would you feel jealous of your step-brother?
3. Would you want your mom to quit talking badly about your dad and his wife?
4. Would you wish the divorced never happened?
5. Would you feel confused and insecure?


There are many stories much worse than Lucas' situation. The thing to remember is that your children have their own thoughts and feelings. They are not robots.

Children's Reaction to Parents' Divorce

I remember a father who left his wife and kids to live with his best friend's wife. He came into my counseling office one day angrily announcing, “Kids are flexible! I'm going to show them what a real relationship is like.”

Unfortunately for him, his kids weren't flexible because they wanted nothing to do with him and his new girlfriend. They didn't want to see how his good relationship worked. They didn't forgive him for walking out on them. Again, children are not robots. They have feelings.

7 Children's Reactions to Divorce

The following are common responses to divorce. They include:


1. Breaking rules at home and school.
2. Avoiding friends and spending time alone.
3. Acting angry toward parents.
4. Losing interest in school and favorite activities.
5. Feeling depressed and/or expressing fear of the unknown.
6. Feeling responsible and guilty for the divorce.
7. Staying awake at night.


These are not the only reactions to divorce that children experience. Responses can be quite different, especially for children in highly abusive families. They might feel relieved.

Divorced Parents 10 Biggest Mistakes – A Parenting Checklist

If you're a divorced parent, please avoid the following:


1. Bad-mouthing your ex in front of the kids.
2. Telling your child, “You shouldn't feel like that.”
3, Spoiling your kids with expensive gifts.
4. Being late or not showing up for visitations.
5. Whining about your situation and getting your child worried.
6. Lying to the courts that your ex is sexually abusing your child.
7. Making your child a go-between messenger.
8. Trying to get your child to love you the most.
9. Interrogating your child about your ex.
10. Refusing to enforce sensible behavior rules in your home.


Of course, there are many more behaviors that divorced parents who love their children must avoid. Those that were mentioned are the common ones.

Let's see what positive behaviors parents who love their children more than they hate their ex-spouse can do.

How Divorced Parents Love Children – 15 Ways


1. Remember that your child is part of you. To put-down the ex is like saying, “Half of you is bad.”
2. Keep visitation dates to show your child how important she is to you.
3. Say truthful good things about your ex or say nothing at all.
4. Listen and accept your child's feelings. Avoid discounting them.
5. Prepare your child for changes by discussing them ahead of time.
6. Give messages directly to your ex without making your child the messenger and putting her in the middle.
7. Avoid interrogating your child about the other parent's life.
8. Don't push new romantic partners into your child's life.
9. Build an interesting life for yourself to avoid leaning on your child for emotional support.
10. Be kind, firm, supportive and consistent with your child.
11. Always act in the best interest of your child.
13. Earn their love but not with lots of gifts.
12. Keep the same good rules you had before the divorce.
14. Have sincere, sensitive chats with your child to keep your connection close and secure.
15. Say, “I love you,” often.


Conclusion for Divorce, Brainwashing, and Loving Kids

Divorce alone is painful for children. When parents pile their misery on their child, they increase the pain. Children need mature parents who love them. Parents need to notice their child's reactions to the divorce, avoid the 10 big mistakes, and practice the 15 behaviors that help their children adjust to the divorce. It's not easy but it CAN be done.

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