INvite your child to share pictures of activities with your co-parent before the divorce.

Events enjoyed while with your co-parent after the separation are important too.

Children gain a sense of security and belonging in the home.  Divorce, often results in going to two homes or moving to a new home. Time spent in each home is not as important as feeling a sense of belonging.


Home and objects in the home represent security.  In one way, there is a sense of attachment in seeing the same things in our home. Even if furniture or shelf units are rearranged that favorite picture frame is still readily visible.
 
There is a sense of awareness if an item is moved or replaced. Consistency of knowing what waits for us after opening the door eases our minds of what to expect.
 
Holidays, vacations and fun moments are forever captured in the photos displayed. Seashells from a family day at the beach and trinkets bought over the years have meaning. 
 

Your family unit prior to the divorce/separation undoubtedly included many happy times resulting in positive memories for your child.  The good times shared by your family are not erased because of the divorce.  Importantly, your child should feel free to express joy about family memories.

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Real Life Example

Pictures are Everything

Read how this child reacted when ‘his picture’ was replaced.  This shows the importance of maintaining continuity in your child’s life. 
 

Following an amicable divorce, one parent remained in the family home.  This mom decided to update family photos by changing pictures in a frame. 

One frame included a picture of her 8-year-old son as a toddler. His picture remained in the same frame for over half of the child’s life. When the child noticed that ‘his frame’ had a different picture he became visibly upset. As, divorce presented the obvious challenges, his mom interpreted the emotional response as ‘What happened to my picture? ‘Why am I replaced?’

 
Sometimes, changes are difficult and issues may be exacerbated following a divorce. Emotional security is easily challenged.  After that incident, updated photos were placed in new frames and once again, all was right with the world.
 

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Take home message:

Pictures serve as a time-line of your family. 

Seeing the same pictures over the years creates a sense of security. 

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 Real Life Example

Family Treasures

This parent helped her adolescent adjust to the divorce and living arrangements by displaying favorite pics and mementos.

 

Following a long divorce, this mom and daughter moved into a smaller home.  This mom replicated a shelf unit in their new home displaying the numerous photos, and memorabilia (seashells, etc.) that had been showcased in their previous house.  She placed the shelf unit outside her daughter’s room.

 This mom stated that having the photos in view was difficult on some days; however, any ill feelings were offset because of the emotional contentment the shelf unit seemed to offer her daughter.  She noticed on many occasions her daughter lingering looking at the photos and memorabilia.

New photos were placed in other rooms and theshelf unit remained untouched preserving a different different time in their family.

In recreating a display ‘pre-divorce’ mementos this mom made the selfless decision to make the divorce about her daughter.

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Take home message:

Displaying mementos and pictures reassures the moments are replayed and bring a sense of security to your child!

Divorce is between the parents-About the Child! LOVE WINS!!!   LOVE WINS!!!   LOVE WINS!!!   

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INvite your child to share details about their activities when on the phone with your co-parent!

Encourage your child to share details about friends, school, and extra-curricular activities. Express enjoyment when handing the phone to your child when your co-parent calls. Keep in mind that some parents are not interested in maintaining contact with their child at all. 

Relish in the fact that your child has two parents loving and protecting them.  With Shared Parenting, there are two parents to ask about their day. Two parents to encourage them and help with homework and social issues.  Two parents to celebrate their successes.

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Real Life Example

An Important Phone Call!

In this scenario try to imagine the child’s experience. See how a do-over can make a big difference in the child’s contentment and security. 

 

Initial scenario: A child is playing in her room when the co-parent calls.  The parent of the house yells out to the child in a negative tone “your mom/dad is on the phone”, rolls their eyes and begrudgingly hands the phone to an innocent 6-year-old daughter.  The young girl sheepishly takes the phone and engages in a relatively brief and somewhat guarded conversation while the parent of the house stands close by with a stern presence. 

Before moving on to the Do-Over: Imagine that you are asked to observe this scenario

o   Does this little girl feels comfortable talking to her parent on the phone?

o   Is she able to share her feelings and thoughts about the events of her day with one parent on the phone while her other parent is standing close by and giving negative non-verbal cues? 

o   Is she able to talk playfully with their parent and ask questions about their upcoming weekend together?

o   How can she enjoy the conversation knowing that the parent (they also love so very much) is standing close-by in an obvious offended posture?

Now, imagine a do-over:

This child is playing in her room, the phone rings and the parent at home calls out, “hey sweetie, your mom/dad is on the phone”, and when the child enters the room, happily hands the phone to her and says “be sure to share how you aced the spelling test today”.  This child leaps to the phone with a big smile on her face and engages in an animated conversation about her day, the spelling test, and the plans for their next weekend together. 

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Take home message:

Which scenario would you choose to experience?

Which scenario would you choose for your child?