Sunday is Valentine's Day. It is a wonderful time to celebrate love, but for someone who is going through a divorce or who has just recently gone through a divorce it can be a very painful time...a time to mourn lost love...a time of anger even... especially when children and custody and visitation issues are involved. It's easier than ever on a day like this to argue and attack a former loved one. When a family is in the midst of divorce turmoil on Valentine's Day, it can be even more challenging than normal to model healthy conflict resolution skills. Because this is the case, it is even more important to realize that children's ability to resolve conflict and problem solve is directly affected by the examples set forth by the adults they love, especially their parents. By modeling the ability to set aside differences and take the high road (even on Valentine's Day), parents in conflict can instill positive conflict management and resolution skills in their children. Below are a few suggestions to help model kindness, tolerance, and respect on what might be a particularly difficult day.
• Help your children make or purchase Valentines cards for everyone in their life - including your former partner and step-parents if applicable.
• Help your children write a Valentine letter to their Mom or Dad (your former partner) and be sure to help them in expressing how much they love them.
• Give them extra hugs and kisses and tell them that you love them. Remind them that both parents love them unconditionally and equally, even if you happen to believe otherwise. Remind them that there are other people in their lives who love them like their grandparents,uncles, aunts, and even cousins.
• Be supportive when your child wants to invite the other parent and/or their new partner to participate in Daddy-Daughter Dances or Mother-Son Outings, even if you are not included.
• Purchase small treats or bake cookies or cupcakes for family members and reinforce that compassion, thoughtfulness and unbiased respect are valuable life skills at any time of the year.