In thinking about this week’s blog post, I reflected back on the last few weeks and a couple of court cases in which I was Guardian ad litem for the children. These cases were heart-breaking. Parents who, yes, said they wanted what was best for their children, and parents who, yes, certainly loved their children, but children who were showing signs of stress, anxiety, and sadness. And this was a few years after the divorce, when things normally settle down for people.
There was definitely a disconnect here, and for the life of me, I could not get the parents to see how what they were doing and saying was seriously impacting their children. I could see that each parents heard what I was saying but thought, “She’s talking about him (or her), not me. I’m not doing that.” It was all the other parent’s fault. If they had said something inappropriate in front of the children, well, they had to! After all, a person can only take so much before they have to defend themselves. Right? Geesh. It was crazy frustrating for me.
As Guardian ad litem for the children, my job is to speak for the children, to be the voice of the children in the courtroom, and to try to help the parents understand what their children need. Mostly kids tell me, “I just want them to get along.” Unfortunately too often parents can’t hear this information. They can’t hear that what they are doing and saying is part of the problem for the children.
In thinking about how to bring this information to you in this week’s post, I came across some information and a website that cuts right to the chase and tells it like it is. The website is www.TheProChildWay.com. What Ellen Kellner has on her home page is exactly what I tried to tell the parents in these cases. If parents would do just these things, their children would experience the greatest relief ever, and what a gift that would be.
Here’s what she says:
Your child is watching you when you interact with your ex in front of him or her.
Are you relaxed and smiling?
Your child is hearing what you say about your ex when he/she is in earshot.
Are you saying nice things about the person he/she loves?
When your child is present, EVERY interaction with your ex is a chance to either crush her spirit or nuture it. It’s your choice. Your ex can’t force a smile off of your face. Your ex can’t force you to use irrate language and tone. Your ex can’t force you to engage in an unreasonable exchange.
You can smile.
You can stay calm.
You can walk away.
You can take time to develop the right response.
All it takes is learning to step back and looking at your child. By looking at your child, you’ll quickly be reminded of his or her tender soul that craves to be surrounded by love, not conflict. Not reacting is a learned, mindful practice, but your child is worth it. Your child’s future greatly depends on how you choose to raise her through each moment.
For more information on how to parent with your ex, be sure to check out Ellen’s website and book at www.TheProChildWay.com. This is wonderful information and support for parents who truly want to put the needs of their children first.