Divorced Parenting: Relationship Talk

by Brette Sember

dad reassuring his childIf you're divorced, separated or split from an unmarried partner, you've been a bit unlucky in love. Your children however, are wonderful gifts that have come from the experience. You probably hope your child will grow up to marry or partner with someone and have it last forever, happily ever after.

Unfortunately, the divorce rate for children of divorced parents may be as high as 57%. Experts believe that these children don't learn about relationship permanency and have no idea how to create a successful relationship for themselves since they have no role model. You might have heard your child say "I'm never getting married!" in reaction to the divorce or break up experience.

What You Can Do

If you want to give your child a chance at developing healthy adult relationships, there are some things you can do now:

Talk positively about the other parent. Continuing to express negativity, anger, and hate will only create more emotional conflict for your child.

Be honest about the past. Make it clear that you and other parent were in love and wanted a life together, but that some problems happened. Stress that you were happy and that your wedding (if you had one) was a wonderful day. Tell your child how you felt about the other parent when you met him or her. It's important for children to see that there positives in the relationship at some point.

Talk to older teens about how to avoid mistakes you may have made. If you committed at too young an age, were unrealistic in your expectations, were unfaithful, or made other choices that contributed to the downfall of your marriage, talk about them. Point out what you did wrong and how you might have done things differently.

Be clear that you are very, very glad you were married or partnered because your child was the result of that union. No matter what went wrong, the relationship resulted in a wonderful child.

Try to make better relationship choices for yourself in the future. Moving in and out with different partners will just serve to show your kids that no relationship is ever permanent.

Be very clear that relationships work only if two people work on them together and that a divorce means that both partners made some mistakes.

Be optimistic about marriage and relationships. Don't go to your niece's wedding and say, "It'll never last." Tell your child how wonderful marriage can be when it works. Say that you believe in love.

Brette McWhorter Sember is a retired family attorney and mediator and nationally known expert about divorce and parenting after divorce. She is the author of:

Learn more about Brette on her web site.

Copyright © Brette McWhorter Sember. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.