When Divorce Threatens the Family Team

sad girl of divorceBy Dr. Robyn Silverman

Lately I’ve been hearing about a lot of marriages breaking down and leading to divorce. Several of you have written me privately wondering how you can keep divorce from wearing down your children. As a marriage is one of the ultimate “teams” in our lives that relies on incredible teamwork, it deserves to be discussed in these terms to help our children to the best of our ability.  It just so happens that the Powerful Word of the Month this Month is Teamwork and marriage is a great example of a team that often needs maintenance.

How can we teach teamwork when the most obvious team in a child’s life, the marriage of his or her parents, is breaking down?

Nobody’s perfect. No marriage is perfect. No couple is perfect. But when it comes to our children, we must show them that the marriage team can deal with problems, grow and change. Even if the parents feel that they can no longer be together as a couple, as a parental team, they can still be strong (barring issues of abuse, of course). It’s not the marital issues that become the biggest problem but rather how the parents handle the issues that threaten the marriage or the divorce itself.

How are you handling the stress? Are you bashing your “teammate” in front of your children? Are you refusing to take any responsibility for the problems or issues you are having? It’s time to stop. A team relies on the behavior of more than one person. Think of any sports team. If teammates are screaming at one another, playing the blame game, and ducking responsibility, they are not being a good teammate themselves. It’s time to take a different approach.Reach out for help.  Find a way to blow off steam.  Talk to a mentor or a friend.  Get involved with something constructive and find a way to face the issues without pointing a finger.

Are you listening to the other person? Are you talking but refusing to open your ears? The best conversations typically happen with more listening and less talking. As part of the marriage team, it’s important to take a step back, get some perspective, and allow the other person to have their say. If you need help listening to one another, a marriage counselor or success coach may be in order.Your children must see you talking and resolving issues if you expect them to be able to do the same in their lives.

Are you dragging in your children to be pick sides? Be careful. This typically backfires in more ways than one. Not only are you asking the child to take a swing against the other parent, you are sending confusing messages that can break trust and leave your child feeling vulnerable. I know of plenty of parents who’ve taken the approach of “turning their children against another parent” (called parental alienation) and wind up finding that their approach hurts everyone involved.

How do you deal with parental issues such that the team stays intact or gets stronger despite the issues? In the end, the parental team does not only affect 2 people but rather, the whole family including the children who rely on you for strength, love, support, and security.

Would love to hear your take on the topic.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn Silverman Introduces The New Powerful Word: Teamwork!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

We want children to learn how to work as a team.  However, so many people feel that you can actually get more done alone rather than with the help of others.  While that can sometimes be true when working with people who are goofing off or being counterproductive, working as a team with productive, willing people can actually help children get more done!Just check out what these powerful kids have been able to do!

Ask your children:

(1) What are their favorite teams? Why?

(2) When do teams work well? When do teams NOT work well?

(3) If they were leading a team that was not working well together, what would they say to their team to help them grow together?

Discuss with your children:

(1) The teams you’ve been on and what you’ve experienced while on them.

(2) The most successful team you’ve ever been on and why.

(3) The least successful team you’ve been on and why.

At your Powerful Words Member School this month, we will be going over all this plus much more.  It’s an important month to learn about teamwork so keep us posted on how your children are doing and what lessons they’re putting to work at home, at school, and out in the community.  Check back with us often as we’ll be talking a lot about teamwork this month here at the Powerful Parenting Blog!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs