Divorce is stressful. There is a lot on your plate between maintaining your job, dividing all the assets, figuring out living situations, and determining custody agreements. Even if you were the one that asked for the divorce, there is some sadness too. It’s a major chapter of your life coming to an end. It’s easy to forget how much your child’s life is changing too. While doing your best to keep all the sadness and hurt from them, trying to keep their schedule as normal as possible, and never bad mouthing the other parent, your kids are still stressed too.
Even if your kids knew everything wasn’t happy in your marriage they still won’t understand why it’s happening. They will internalize it. They will spend a fair amount of time wondering if they could have stopped it. It is so important to keep the lines of communication open with them. What details you reveal are at your discretion, but some form of, “mommy and daddy grew in different directions, and while we don’t love each other anymore, we both still love you very much,” is important. Kids need that reassurance, and often.
Little kids can sometimes hold very unrealistic expectations; such as asking if you can all still live together. Their entire world is often centered on us and how we behave. Keep that in mind always. The way you talk to your soon to be ex in front of them, and how you talk about each other to them, will be remembered. As much as you want the divorce to be over or as angry as you may be, the kids don’t need to see it, not now. When they are older, late teens to adults, they are more capable of having a conversation about how you felt, but now they not only can’t understand, but they will internalize.
Divorce for kids means their entire way of life has ended. Consider (if possible) a civil friendship with your ex until the kids are older. If your kids play sports, are in band, or anything other event you go watch, if you and your ex can’t sit together your kids will have to choose who to run to first. That kind of decision can be crushing for them. Their time with their parents is now limited. They will have different rules and expectations at both houses. They will have a lot of their own emotions tied in as well. As hard as this is for you, it is just as hard on them. Make sure you acknowledge that to them, and try to help them through it too.
Your kids will survive your divorce, but they will need your help to do it. Don’t minimize their suffering (by accident or by choice) because they are young, and don’t compare it to yours.
Talking to Loved Ones About Money: How to Offer Useful Guidance
Let’s face it: conversations about personal finances are usually uncomfortable. Especially with family members. Especially when your advice is past due. Although your parents, children, siblings, and significant other may trust your opinion on everything from fashion to food, schooling them on their spending habits can poke at their pride and force pushback.
They must be willing to listen to you
If they’re suppressing embarrassment, guilt, and shame while you’re talking, any financial brilliance you can offer is irrelevant. The key is to find a balance between being understanding and dishing out the tough love that’ll give them the help they need. You should be direct and logical; it’s not by chance that you’re the one in the financially superior position, so show them how you got there. Use examples from your own life that resemble their situation, if applicable. If you can relate to them in a personal way without using a condescending tone (easier said than done), you will give them an invitation to humility while giving credibility to yourself.
You have to know your stuff
If you’re not a financial advisor, it can be risky giving guidance to other people. Your intentions may be pure when you tell your brother how beneficial a 529 college savings plan can be for his children, but you might be causing more harm than good if the drawbacks aren’t clearly explained, as well. Do your best to share as much information as you can, but make sure your words aren’t the sole reasoning for their decision-making. Your full discretion here is vital. The endgame should be the improvement of their researching and analytical skills rather than simple memorization of individual facts and figures.
Follow up and show continued support
Giving your loved ones a copy of your fancy budget template and telling an inspirational, “I clawed my way up from the depths of debt” story are great ways to open their eyes and get them on the right track. It’s important to remember, though, that inspiration is perishable. Your motivated mentees have already made poor financial decisions that have resulted in poor financial situations. Changing the way in which they handle money is a slow process that requires patience. Your approachability is paramount; they need to know that you’ll have their back if they don’t get it quite right the first time around. Checking in with them periodically might seem annoying, but they’ll know it’s for their own good, and they’ll appreciate it more than they might admit.
Putting Your Spouse First: Best Practices for a Successful Marriage
Let’s preface this topic with some quick facts – yes babies need a LOT of attention, and yes normally young children will need your attention and your focus and your energy much more than your spouse because you are teaching them how to be fully functioning human beings. And yes your time and energy will be spent on your children because they need you to survive while they are young. But once you have children the best way to keep your family close and your marriage strong is by striving to put your spouse first. This does not mean you are putting your spouse first because you are selfish or a terrible parent, you put your spouse first FOR your children, your family, and your marriage.
Why should you put your spouse first? Here are some reasons your marriage will benefit by putting each other first:
A Lasting Marriage
According to success.com, “If you want your marriage to last your lifetime, give it the attention and effort it deserves. Your kids will live with you for just two short decades. Putting your marriage on cruise control for 20 years, while you focus on your kids is like falling asleep at the wheel – deadly.” Your children are only with you for a few short years, if you want a lasting marriage then take time to appreciate and love the person who will be with you the longest. You do not get to choose your extended family – mothers, sisters, aunts, nephews, etc. You do not get to choose who your children will turn out to be, the only person you truly choose to love is your spouse. Create a lasting marriage by putting your spouse first.
Happy and Healthy Children
You are your children’s first and most effective teacher – they will base many of their ideas of love and marriage on the example that you give. Your children will feel safe, happy when they have two parents who work together as a team and act like their spouse is their favorite person. Showing a healthy marriage where two people care about each other above all else is one of the best things you can do for your children. According to huffingtonpost.com, “I view my investment in my relationship with my spouse as one that is beneficial to our family as a whole.”
Putting your spouse first, caring for their needs, loving them, and being aware of their thoughts and feelings is a fantastic way to care for a lasting romance. Your children will eventually leave, but your spouse will be with you if you take the time to create that lasting relationship.
Here are some reasons – centered on children – for why you should put your spouse first:
Putting your children first, instead of your spouse, gives your children an unrealistic view of the world in which they are the center of attention. In an article by physician Danielle Teller, titled “How American parenting is killing the American marriage,” she said, “Children who are raised to believe that they are the center of the universe have a tough time when their special status erodes as they approach adulthood. Most troubling of all, couples who live entirely child-centric lives can lose touch with one another to the point where they have nothing left to say to one another when the kids leave home.”
Children Who Blame Themselves
If you put your children first and your marriage suffers because of it, your children may start to blame themselves for your unhappiness. According to psychologytoday.com, “Unhappy and unfulfilled parents can lead their kids to conclude that marriage makes people unhappy, or if the focus of their discord centers on child-rearing differences, that they are the source of their parents’ unhappiness.”
It benefits you, your spouse, your marriage, your children, and your whole family when you put your spouse first.