When divorce is discussed or in process, every member of the family experiences many difficult feelings: sadness, anger, confusion as well as disappointment.

As a coach and child specialist, I have witnessed the challenges faced by separating parents. Parents and children often struggle with new schedules, ideas, new ways to parent children, new ways to think about their parenting, their identity, and their future.  Many of the day-to-day events are shifting and unpredictable (outside) as are the feelings and thoughts (inside).

What we as humans all have in common is that we often wish this would  NOT be the way it is, we often stuggle with change, wish that things possibly stay the SAME, or be the way we had HOPED things would turn out.

Your children’s desire for stability, their hopes, dreams and preferences are important and it’s important to be aware of them.  Parents need to hear from their children about their hopes and dreams and. yes, their disappointments. It is also important to understand and accept your own (and your spouse’s) wishes for stability, your (and your spouse’s) hopes, dreams and preferences.

Families start with the sweetest and highest of hopes.  The good news is that we all do know about facing things that aren’t exactly the way we had planned or wished.  As little kids we were helped to tolerate (although maybe not enjoy) being the oldest or youngest sibling, tallest/shortest kid in class, running out of our favorite ice cream flavor or having our birthday party rained out!  Life is generous in offering us opportunities to learn from disappointment.

Remember how you have learned and taught your children to turn toward difficulty but not have it DEFINE us or them.  All is not ruined.  We teach our children to face challenges and disappointments with courage, determination, and renewed clarity of purpose.

Remembering your strengths as a person, as a parent, enables you to tolerate and even turn towards difficulty and disappointment, rather than avoid it or sugar coat it. You might tell your children how lucky they are to have two Christmases now, or you might help them accept their feelings of confusion and disappointment without the sugar coating.

We find ways to get through difficulties together, with humor, friends and perhaps a good book. Remember how you have done this in the past, for in those experiences are your resources and skills.

In the Collaborative Divorce process we help parents remember and reclaim their strengths and their hopes for their family, their children and themselves to craft a new normal.

Elizabeth Salin, MFT, is a Divorce Coach, Child Specialist, and psychotherapist in San Rafael.
Photo Credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.