It’s a simple fact that parents are children’s first and most powerful role models. When you and your spouse are in the midst of divorce, therefore, your children continue to look to you as their role model. Now, more than ever, they are looking to you for guidance and assurance during this tumultuous time in their lives, a time when you, yourself, might not be at your best emotionally.
So what’s a divorcing parent to do?
Believe it or not, these 7 key skills and qualities of effective leadership make up an ideal framework when parenting your children during divorce.
1. Be a role model. Effective leaders lead by example. They are responsible for what they say and do. For instance, if you want your children to be kind and compassionate, you need to model what that looks like.
2. Commitment. Effective leaders are committed to achieving their vision, no matter what it takes. If you’re committed to ensuring a healthy transition for your children, do it at all costs.
3. Establish trust. True leaders build trust by consistently being authentic, that it, their actions and words are consistent with one another. When you make a promise to your children, keep it, no matter how small you believe it is.
4. Actively listen. Don’t just hear your children or your spouse. Listen to understand where they are coming from. Even better if you can accurately repeat what they said back to them so they feel heard.
5. Communicate clearly and effectively. When you communicate your needs and decisions to your children or to your spouse, be clear, be specific, be concise, and be direct. Period.
6. Resolve conflict quickly and professionally. This is particularly difficult in the midst of divorce, the ultimate conflict. It is possible, however, to approach conflict as a problem to be solved instead of as a “fight” and to be objective in resolving that problem, whether with your spouse, children, or others.
7. Never Stop Learning. Effective leaders constantly strive to learn more. Therefore, once you and your spouse decide to divorce, you should consult with your attorney as soon as possible on which divorce process will work best while minimizing any additional stress on your children, as well as potential outcomes. You might also consult with your accountant and/or certified divorce financial planner about financial planning and tax implications in divorce. In short, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions that will ultimately benefit your children.
Remember, all children, especially those with divorcing parents, need your trust, understanding, and emotional strength. They need your leadership.