Doreen: Hey, my beautiful friends, and how are you? Hope you’re having a good day, a good week. Remember, life is a balance of 50 50. You’re gonna have good days and bad days, and that’s just the way it is. But today we’re gonna talk about something really important. I know important to you, our children. How divorce affects the children and maybe some tips on what we can do to help them along.
So if you are ready, let’s get started.
Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve and desire. As partners both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter.
Hey Jeff. How are you?
Jeff: I’m doing great. How about you?
Doreen: All is good. Trying to figure out what’s going on.
Jeff: Well, not much going on. You know, it’s beautiful, beautiful day outside and life is great.
Doreen: Yeah, life is good. You know, I was just saying it’s a balance of 50 50.
Jeff: Yeah, it is.
Doreen: Good days and bad days.
I always, you know, talking about our children, our kids are in their twenties and I like to remind them that life is a balance of good and bad. You’re gonna have good days, you’re gonna have bad days. And when you understand that and that’s just part of the human experience, kind of makes it better.
I think a lot of our kids today, especially teenagers, probably preteens as well, and young adults, you know, with social media and everything that children really have this thought process, or many of them may have this thought process that life is supposed to be all about what they see on Instagram and TikTok. Right?
Doreen: Which is all like, nobody posts the horrible things going on in their life. They all post the good things when they look their best, when the, you know, great things are happening for them you know, and that’s just not reality. And I think it’s really difficult today for kids growing up with such an available, you know, they’re like on social media all the time like it’s in their face all the time.
Jeff: Yeah. They seem to be more focused on other people’s lives than their own.
Doreen: Right? Maybe.
Jeff: Well, I mean, that’s what, you know, the social media’s all about is what’s out there, what, you know this person had for dinner, what this person, you know, is doing with their pet. I mean, it’s all about other people’s lives instead of looking in, you know, at themselves.
Doreen: Well, what do you recommend with that?
Jeff: Well, I recommend that they first take care of number one before they start looking at other people. and look at themselves, which is what we’re gonna talk about today.
Doreen: The children.
Jeff: The children. And as, as far as you know, good and bad, I think you have to have bad days to have a perspective of knowing when you’re having a good day.
Doreen: True. We wouldn’t know that we’re having a great day if we didn’t experience negative things in our lives, such as divorce.
Doreen: Right. So it makes you really appreciate, hopefully appreciate the better days.
Doreen: So I wanna talk about children because we’re dealing with some issues right now with our son, you know, who’s 22 years old. And again, we always get inspired by things going on with in our life and wanted to basically go back to some of the basics when you have children and you’re getting divorced, maybe some things to take into consideration.
Jeff: Yep. Okay. I think this is gonna be a great episode.
Doreen: Well, you wanna talk about what’s going on?
Jeff: Well, he’s suffering with anxiety attacks, panic attacks. He’s having a hard time breathing and he contributes it to. . Well, he doesn’t know what it, where it’s coming from and we’re trying to dig deep into find out what’s going on there.
I guess we can always look back and say what it was in the past, but we’re trying to deal with it today in the present.
Doreen: Not easy.
Jeff: Not easy to do at all.
Doreen: No, I know. And so I know that for those of you out there that have children the job never ends. Our kids are in their twenties and we still feel, you know, as concerned, as responsible, you know, always wanting to protect them. And it’s really hard when they’re adults now and they have their own way of doing things, right. And so we talked in previous episodes about like setting boundaries and how that can be important when you’re dealing with adult children. You wanna give an example of that?
Jeff: Of setting boundaries? Well, we’ve talked before, but I think it’s a great example of, you know, Christmas when we had, you know, Christmas, when we had him over and we did not set the boundary of when he should be. . And if he does, he’s not there in time. You know what the consequences were.
And we ended up having a few disappointments during the Christmas holiday season because of that. And I think now that we’re ready to set those boundaries, I think we’re gonna have a much better holiday season coming up.
Doreen: But I don’t think it’s just about the holidays, it’s about setting boundaries with your children.
Age appropriate. You know, here we’re looking at adult children, so obviously as an adult child, they get to make their own decisions and we can set boundaries based on what we can control.
Jeff: Yeah, it wasn’t about the holidays, it was more of an example of a recent boundary that should have been set or, and it wasn’t set and it, and then we had consequences.
Doreen: Right. So we know like next year, and that’s just a small example, that we’re gonna do things a little differently.
Doreen: You know, when we call for breakfast at a certain time and that’s when the kids are together and we’re together as a family to open presence and share that time together. You know, we can set a boundary and say, if you’re not here by this time, then basically, you know, don’t come.
Jeff: Yeah. Well the food is put away and you don’t get to eat and presents are done.
Jeff: It’s unfortunate and it’s a very, very tough thing to do, but if you begin with the end in mind and you think, well, this is, I’m doing it in his best interest, it makes it a little bit easier to do.
Doreen: Yeah. Cuz it affects everybody. You know, it affects the entire family and you know, tough love is something to take into consideration and it doesn’t feel good as a parent to lay certain foundational rules and boundaries because it’s not. Generally in our nature, we’re, you know, we’re, we’re caretakers and so we wanna protect and we want to enhance their lives.
But sometimes you have to set boundaries. And, you know, kids, psychologists teach us that kids, they seek discipline. They really want those rules and they want this, even though they may fight you on it, they do. So let’s talk about divorce and children. You know, why is it that certain children, who go through divorce because it does affect the entire family, right?
So I do consider it. Part of the children, you know, they’re affected by the divorce.
Doreen: Why is it that some children seem to do better than others? You know, is the question.
Jeff: That’s a great question.
Doreen: Some rebound quickly, some not so much. And what can we do to try to help our kids along? You know, the research shows that the first year is the toughest.
And the research teaches us, and this is just through general Google searches and different research authorities that we’ve used to put this podcast together. They say the first year is the toughest. It’s the toughest for everyone. It’s not just the toughest on the children, setting new routines, having two new houses, having to go back and forth, having to deal with their parents no longer being together, you know, that’s they say the toughest time. Right.
Jeff: There’s, there’s probably still a lot of still high, it could be negative or positive, but emotions are probably at its all-time high during that first year.
Doreen: Of course.
Jeff: Yeah. So that makes it even more, you know, tougher.
Doreen: Of course it does, you know? But the first thing is that you have to know what the research says is the age of your child. So for example, when you’re dealing with young children that are going between homes, , they seem to have a fear that now that their parents are no longer together and no longer love each other and what they know as being a norm, whatever that norm is that they experience When the parents were together, they have this fear that this will affect them and the love that they are getting from their parents, right? So they say that at this, when you’re dealing with young children, really, really important to express. It’s not their fault that you love them unconditionally. That just because mom and dad are no longer together, that doesn’t mean we both don’t love you.
When we talk about dealing with our kids and divorce, one of the rules that I hear time and time again from the experts is that parents who are engrossed in bad talking the other parent maybe physically, you know, verbally disagreeing in front of the children. This is when they’ve already separated.
Okay. It’s already bad enough beforehand, but let’s say after the separation, those type of interactions, obviously I think we most of us can agree are not in the children’s best interest, but there’s also nonverbal communication that children pick up on. Some examples of that might be maybe you’re at an event for the children and the child will pick up on the fact that the parents don’t even look at each other.
Let alone sit together. But, and maybe that’s asking a lot for some from some parents and whatever happened in the breakdown of their marriage, but to not even have eye contact with the other parent, to not do the simple etiquette of saying that.
Jeff: Saying hello.
Doreen: Yeah. Saying hello, I mean, children pick up on that. When, Sam and I got divorced, it was really important that we had a united front in front of the children. They went to a very small nurturing grade school, you know, elementary and middle school, and so, you couldn’t get lost in the parent crowd, right? When there was an event going on, whatever it was, let’s say it was a talent show or it was an award ceremony, or it was a soccer game.
There weren’t a lot of parents, cuz it was a small school. So it was very obvious to the children, or at least from my perspective in Sam’s perspective, that if we didn’t show a united force, they would pick up on it. And we didn’t want that. You know, as much as we may have had differences in our marriage, we wanted to make sure that the children knew that that had nothing to do with them.
And some of that is that non-verbal communication. Now, we didn’t always sit next to each other, but we certainly would acknowledge each. when the children were done with, let’s say, playing their sport, we would wait for them together. You know, it was a matter of walking to the cars together, just showing an united force even when again, you don’t like the person
Jeff: Yeah, I guess I have a completely opposite example of what transpired in my first marriage. We were sleeping in separate rooms for a long time, and that really kind of, I guess, confused our son why we’re definitely separated in the same house.
Jeff: That was definitely something I look back on and say that probably affected him in a negative way.
Doreen: You know but on a side note, we’ve been talking to a lot of people lately and it seems to be like a common theme that some people that don’t have issues in their marriage still sleep separately. Because they want a good night’s sleep and how important sleep is. But kids pick up on the fact that you’re sleeping in different rooms or you’re ignoring each other because of something more than just, I need a good night’s sleep. They get that.
Jeff: They, there’s a vibe in their house.
Doreen: There’s a vibe.
Jeff: There’s a vibe in the house that kids pick up on. It’s almost like a six sense that that kids have and people have that they know that there’s something going on and words aren’t needed.
Doreen: You know, I always go back to, and again, I’m not an expert, you know, in child psychology, I’m only explaining what I’ve learned through reading and dealing with experts, you know, being in family law for so long is that those verbal, I’m sorry, those nonverbal ways of communicating with your ex are picked up on. Kids are very smart, they get it. And they will snoop around. They will pick up your phone, they will look at your text messaging with your ex.
Some kids do this when you leave documents around dealing with the divorce. You know, older children will look at those documents. They will ask parents from time to time, you know, what’s going on. How do you, how do you respond to that? You know, that’s a question depending on the age of the child will be how you determine how to speak to your child about what’s going on with your divorce, with your relationship with your ex, right? So one of the things that I like to at least advise my clients when they’re having custody related issues, right? Best interest of the children issues. And I’m not talking about those cases where there’s an it, an absolute harm to the child.
For example, you have a parent who is got a substance abuse issue, right? Or is there’s a neglect issue, failing to take care of the basic needs of the child. Those cases are I’m not talking about those cases warrant immediate attention relief from the court. You know, probably supervised access in some level, but I’m just talking about having different parenting styles and not liking your ex and really being aware of that, right?
Being aware of how that relationship that you have with your ex can spill into and affect your child. So one of the things that experts always teach us is non-verbal communications and ways in which you’re living your life as a parent is an example, and they’re learning from your examples, right? So think about that as you are going through your life and getting on with your divorce. What am I teaching my child? What do I want him or her to take away from my relationship with my ex? How is this gonna affect my child’s relationship with others in the future? Right.
Jeff: Yeah, that makes sense.
Doreen: All of these are very important. So we talked about young children and some of their concerns.
Let’s talk about, you know, children that are, let’s say grade school. A lot of these children from what experts say, tend to convey that they’re worried that the divorce was their fault. Right.
Jeff: I hear that.
Doreen: Do you hear that?
Jeff: I do.
Doreen: That they have somehow caused the divorce by maybe not getting good grades or misbehaving, or being challenging to the parents.
Right. So it’s important to reinforce that it’s not their fault that it has nothing to do with them. Right. And I’m not sure if I said this and if I did, I, I’m repeating myself, I apologize. But children always see themselves as being part of both parents, right?
Jeff: We didn’t, we didn’t talk about that yet.
Doreen: Right. You wanna explain what that is?
Jeff: They know that they’re half mom and half dad. So if dad is saying something derogatory about the mom, they take it as, there’s something wrong with me as well.
Jeff: Yeah. So, you gotta be really, really careful what you say.
Doreen: Yeah. You know, it’s not easy. I know that a lot of us are struggling with trying to co-parent.
We’re dealing with a lot of our own anger issues, sadness, loneliness, resentment, whatever those negative adjectives are that you are feeling from the divorce. You want that not to spill over to your child. Now, teens, generally what the experts tell us is teens are more worried about themself. You know, this is a time that they’re exploring self-discovery.
They’re starting to become, you know, break away from mom and dad in that sense. And what they tend to worry about is the changes and how it affects their life. For example, my kids, we had a schedule of access visitation schedule where every other weekend from Thursday through Monday, they were with Sam.
Right. And so, and then there was one night in between that they would spend one overnight with Sam. So what happened was, because they were so active, meaning they were all involved in afterschool activities, and they were schlepping all of their stuff from one house to another. Right?
So one was riding horses, so all of her tack and everything for riding horses was being somehow brought to the school or delivered to the house for that one night and then every other weekend. And then, you know, one and two were involved in volleyball for, so whatever they needed for those games and those, you know, I remember those days practices, right?
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. Like I forgot my instrument and I have to, we had to do poor music, bring the instrument to the school.
Doreen: Yeah. Those types of things. And so they came to us and they requested one week on, one week off. Because it was just too much. So teens are really worry. about the changes and how it impacts them.
Jeff: Yeah. And you also have to be careful of the teens that will use the divorce for their own gain. For an example, well, mom lets me do this and dad lets me do that.
Jeff: And that’s very common in teenage years as well.
Doreen: That is true. You know, in other words, at mom’s house, and they’ll try to manipulate you.
Jeff: Like you used the McDonald’s example. You know, well, she lets me have McDonald’s.
Doreen: Right. And maybe, you know, mom lets the child have fast food and at dad’s house he’s more of a very healthy eater, and he doesn’t permit that. You know, so I wanna turn that subject into picking your battles. Yeah. Right. How do you confront difficult conversations with your ex about things that are co-parenting issues?
And I talked about this previously, there’s two different episodes that you can refer to episode number 59 was about pick your battles. And so if you want to learn more about that, I’ll briefly discuss it here. Go back to that episode. And the other episode that I think is worth going back to is called Hard Conversations, and that’s episode 37.
So pick your battles really means what it sounds like. If you’re going to address something with your ex that affects your co-parenting and is important to you, make sure it’s a priority conversation, right? You can’t micromanage everything that happens in your ex’s house when it comes to your children. I see that a lot in my cases where one of the parents who has, you know, and with all due respect to them, has been, let’s say the primary caretaking person has always been the one to decide what they’re eating, when their bed schedule is, you know, taking care of pickup and drop off what their events look like. And now you have a divorce situation. Now the other parent who was never involved on that level. It was just understood in the marriage that let’s say mom would handle those things and dad did other responsibilities in the marriage and for the children, let’s say it was working. You know, now it’s changed. And now dad wants to be equally involved in caretaking and most of the courts, at least in Florida, and I think throughout the country, will permit that to happen.
Many times I’ll have one parent who’s been the caretaker say something to me like, but I’ve always made those decisions, and he’s always let me do that. And so why now should it be different? And the reason is very simple, because you’re divorced. You know, so picking the battles on what you want to address with your ex as it relates to co-parenting is really important.
Do you wanna start a difficult conversation about food, McDonald’s versus, you know, having no fast food? Probably wanna rethink that. But if you wanna talk about things like you have a child who’s not doing well in school, who’s failing, that’s something that maybe has a higher level of concern and is probably, vital. It’s probably vital that the parents try to get together and have some common ground on how to address that.
Jeff: And maybe first come up with a list of things that you agree on and need to discuss before you discuss it with the child.
Doreen: Well, I think what you’re suggesting, and it makes a lot of sense, is you wanna be a united front.
Doreen: When you have important discussions about, or decisions to be made about, let’s say school. talk amongst each other first before you start talking to your child about it. For example, I’ve had situations where a parent will say to the child, well, next year you’ll go to this school. And they haven’t addressed it yet with the other parent who has what we call in Florida’s shared parental responsibility, meaning those have to be mutually decided decisions.
And now the other parent says to the child, well, this is a first I’m hearing about this. Mom never discussed it with me. Not a good place to put your children into. Not a good place for them to be. Right? So addressing those really challenging issues first with the parent and how you’re gonna address them.
Those issues with a child and having a game plan really important. Now, what happens when you have a difficult parent on one side or maybe both parents don’t have the ability to communicate? How do you address that?
Jeff: Wow. Tough question. I think the first thing you have to decide is that we have to do what’s in the child’s best interest and not go into it with, I have to be right and you have to be wrong.
Doreen: Well, that’s what I talk about in hard conversations. Episode number 37 is do more listening than talking, and it’s not about convincing your ex that you’re right. So when you go into a conversation, it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about trying to find common ground, what we call in coaching, that circumstance, that fact that you all can agree on, for example, that John, our child just got an F in math. It’s a fact. Right?
So when you approach the conversation to approach it with, these are the things that we can agree upon, can we not, that John is not doing well in school, that John got an F on his last math test, that the teacher has advised us that he needs tutoring. Those are facts. So when you try to come together with your ex and find common ground circumstances that you can agree on, it’s a better way of approaching that difficult conversation than coming in and saying, well, here’s what I think we should do with regard to John not doing well in his math class.
Doreen: You know, because most likely, especially if you’ve had a challenging co-parent relationship that’s gonna be met with defense. So to go in with that, not having to be right as the first thought in your brain because you can control the conversation yourself. Meaning even if you have a challenging person on the other side, it’s amazing if we did something like this.
And I’ll role play for a minute. Hey Jeff, could we find some time to talk about John not doing well in school?
Doreen: Okay. That conversation should be probably set on your calendars when it’s a good time for both of you to discuss it. Calling your ex up and trying to have a conversation off the fly probably not a great way to approach it. But if you write to him and you say, Hey, can we talk about John not doing well in school? Most likely your ex is gonna respond back. Yes. And then you can establish, you know, maybe when that’s gonna take place, how it’s gonna take place. Is it gonna be over phone?
Is it gonna be meeting for coffee, is it gonna be, you know, whatever it’s going to be. Right?
Jeff: Well, you’re not only respecting my time, but you’re asking me permission to have a conversation, which puts me at a little bit more at ease.
Jeff: Talking to you
Doreen: And then you know, it’s coming up so you can be ready for it. You know, emotionally ready to have the conversation.
Jeff: No, you both can be ready.
Doreen: The other thing that we recommend is when you have a difficult conversation with your ex or with anybody, it could be a coworker, it could be an associate, it could be a neighbor, it could be a friend, it could be a parent, you know, whomever it is to ask them, what do you think?
How would you like to resolve this? Let them open up the conversation with what they feel and why as opposed to you telling them what you feel and why it will change it from going to an offense, a defense, type of conversation to more of an offense makes sense. Does that make sense?
Jeff: It almost makes it neutral.
Jeff: It’s not offense or defense, but I think if you came in like before when you said, we’re changing his schools, we’re gonna go to this different school next year, that automatically puts me on the defense. That would piss me off.
Doreen: Yeah. You know what I sometimes I have parents who, for whatever reason are having such challenges co-parenting after divorce, and they’re contacting me as a lawyer on a regular basis like, you know, he’s talking to me like this, he’s doing this or she’s doing that. And you know, the court system can only do so much. And I’ll be honest with you, most courts, at least here in Florida, are not gonna micromanage your co-parenting relationship. Most courts are gonna take care of major best interest issues, like, you know, physical harm and harm, you know, emotional abuse, those types of things.
But when you’re talking about the day-to-day, co-parenting courts don’t have time for this. They expect parents to be able to co-parent and they just don’t have the ability, time-wise to handle it, nor do they want to. So that’s why we have what they call parent coordinators in some jurisdictions here in Florida, which sounds like what it is.
It’s an expert that’s hired to help the parents to coordinate their co-parenting skills and styles with the best interest of the child. The point being that, you, how you wanna address these issues is really, really important, right? Taking that step back and really taking that deep breath one, asking if they will talk, when is a good time going in with a, can we have some common ground?
Or would you agree with me that John’s not doing well in school? Yes, it’s a fact. Would you agree with me that the teacher has recommended he have tutoring? Yes. It’s a fact. Now, see, you’re building common ground together.
Jeff: Right? And I would write this down too when you, before you go over there probably, and or have the conversation so it’s stays a little bit more in the plan that you have when you’re having that conversation.
Doreen: And when things start to go bad in the conversation. You know, how do you diffuse that? Because it could happen that you’re doing everything right. You’ve set the time, you’ve asked this person, you know, to voice why they wanna do certain things a certain way. You’ve come to common ground, but still there’s this difficult conversation on the other side.
And let’s say that they’re not in a good place. They’re attacking you in all this.
Jeff: Sounds like you’re talking to all the listeners that are saying, well, you don’t know my ex.
Jeff: What do they do?
Doreen: It’s amazing though that how much you can control a conversation by the way you speak to someone
Jeff: And your facial expression and your body language.
Doreen: And so I question sometimes why as humans we don’t use our prefrontal cortex and understand that more on an intellectual level, right? Meaning that if I’m going to attack somebody verbally, most likely they’re gonna be on defense and attack me back. But if I can choose to use my prefrontal cortex and come from an intelligent place where I’m gonna approach it differently, I’m going to be kind and respectful.
it’s amazing how people change. Yeah. First they might be wondering like, what’s going on? Right?
Jeff: And even think about it. And even if it doesn’t go the way you want it to go and you leave the conversation, you’re gonna feel a little bit more of a bigger person and a little bit more probably positive that you at least gave it your best effort.
Doreen: That’s true. Well, I don’t know that that’s, I mean, it’s, it’s nice to feel that way. But that’s more of a self-indulgent feeling, right?
Jeff: It is. But I think if you try to be right all the time and be defensive and offensive to win the conversation is also self-indulgence and to walk away and not having done that and feel proud of yourself could also be considered self-indulgence, but, and there’s no, which is the best of the two.
Doreen: There’s, well, there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know what, let’s table this conversation now. You don’t have to point out that he or she is becoming angry or it’s going, it’s going the wrong direction, because that’s gonna be likely taken as an insult.
But you can certainly say, Hey, listen, why don’t we pick this up? You know, how’s next Tuesday at three o’clock? Could we talk more about this? Give the person an opportunity to calm down. Right, right, right. It’s okay to walk away from the conversation, but in a respectful way and to revisit it. The other thing I wanted to emphasize is if your child is suffering or you see that your child is suffering on some level there’s nothing wrong with seeking professional assistance. You know when our child aren’t feeling well physically, we take them to the doctor, right? If they say, mom, I have a sore throat, and we look at their throat and it’s red, we might consider that they have strep or something’s going on, and so we take them to the doctor in order to make sure everything is okay.
When your child is suffering emotionally be on top of that. And if you need to seek professional assistance, as long as the other side is aware of it, because at least in Florida, you should be giving notice to the other side, I’m taking the child to such and such therapist. Or Would you be okay? I see that he’s suffering.
This is what’s going on. He didn’t sleep. He’s wetting his bed. He’s not eating. He’s fighting with his sister. He’s doing bad in school. I’m really concerned. Could we have a conversation about maybe seeing a therapist, just making sure, like do a wellness check emotionally to make sure he’s okay.
Jeff: Sounds good.
Nothing wrong with that. No, it’s a plan. All right, so listen, co-parenting, there’s a lot of great books on co-parenting. There’s a lot of good materials on the internet. It’s important, like we said, to know where your child is both immediately after the divorce, a year after the divorce, and et cetera.
Watch them right. Seek help when, when you need to, and don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations approaching ’em in a way that could most benefit your child. Be aware of your verbal and non-verbal communications. It is amazing. How when a parent drops off a child, just a simple act. When you hear that, you know when you hear the child coming in or you know that he just pulled up.
There’s nothing wrong with going out, getting your child and waving like, thank you. You know, or see you next time. Those simple acts go a long way.
Jeff: And if you need to talk to us, please reach out to us.
Doreen: Yes, for sure, for sure. All right, everybody, go love your children and love yourself and have a most amazing, amazing week.
Talk to you next time.
Jeff: Bye bye. You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at lad-coaching.com. That’s L A D as in life after divorce dash coaching.com.
Doreen: Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.