As we get halfway through this series on communication on divorced and blended families, let’s talk about why this all matters. You already know that communication isn’t just about what you say. You’ve already learned that some communication can be controlled whereas others cannot. This week, let’s talk about why it’s important for you to know all of this.
There are 3 main reasons communication with your kids, especially after a divorce or blending of a family, is so important.
Kids have a way of internalizing what happens around them and if communication isn’t open, you won’t know how they’re internalizing any of it.
The way you talk to your kids now is how they’ll talk to their kids later on. It creates a cycle.
Communication is the key to resolving conflict and if it’s not working in good times, it won’t work in bad.
Do you really know what your kids are thinking?
I talked about this a little bit in the previous weeks, but it’s important to note again. Kids feel guilt when their parents divorce. They feel worried that they’re the reason for the divorce and the conflict afterwards. Kids worry that if they look like, act like, and talk like their other parent; one parent will hate them, too. Kids worry that if Mom or Dad left because they fell out of love, that they’ll fall out of love with them, too.
To you and I, this seems ridiculous, yet child after child reports that this is what they’re feeling when they’re asked. To you, it may seem obvious that you love them deeply and could never look at them the same way you look at your ex, but their world just imploded and nothing seems impossible now.
Everything you put in place in the good times, turns into what’s in place in the bad.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Sometimes I open my mouth and my Mother (or Father) comes out”, right? Despite my best efforts, it happens to me often - and my sister calls me on it.. When your kids are older, the same will happen to them. What do you think will come out?
Besides the fact that you’re working to either continue or recreate a cycle for them, how you communicate in good times sets the stage for the bad. If positive communication is happening in good times, you have the chance to positively communicate in bad.
Think about how communication happens when there’s conflict right now. Are you a family of, “Yes you are”, “No you’re not”? Are you a family of lecturers? Now think about whether or not it’s working. If it is, wonderful! What if you could communicate in a way that provides love and discipline?
At the end of the day, communication is the most important tool you have with your children. It can mean the difference of them coming to you with issues and concerns or them going elsewhere. It can help them feel loved and supported, it can give them reassurance when guilt or questions come up. Comment below with ways you keep communication open in your house.
If you're ready to open communicaiton in your house, but aren't sure where to start - this video and worksheet will get you there.