Earlier this month, we were pleased to introduce our Divorce Salon series to the Okanagan community.
Our inaugural Kelowna Salon, led by local Child and Family Therapist Jody Bekhuys, M.Ed., R.C.C., focused on topics of interest to parents going through separation or divorce. Jody’s thoughtful remarks and our participants’ insightful contributions led to a rich dialogue about how to improve how former spouses parent together.
For those who weren’t able to join us this time, here are some highlights from the evening – and we hope to see you next time!
1. Parenting Don’ts
Jody shared a helpful list of easy-to-remember tips for what not to say and do when parenting after separation.
Some of these will be familiar to separated parents, such as don't speak negatively to your child about the other parent or their friends / relatives and don't make your child feel bad about enjoying time with your ex. Others might not occur to everyone right away; for example, don't send messages or cheques to the other parent in your child's bag.
2. Stay Connected with Your Kids
We also talked about ways that parents can keep an eye on how their children are coping during a separation.
For example, it's appropriate to talk to the parents of your child's friends or their teacher about what they’ve noticed. Kids may say or do things around these people that they might not when with their parents.
Another approach is to find casual opportunities to talk to your kids – for example, try starting a conversation with them while you're puttering around the kitchen and see what happens. These types of interactions can be more effective than serious, face-to-face discussions, which can make children feel awkward or uncomfortable.
3. Talking to Teens
Because a number of our Salon participants had teenage children, part of our evening focussed on the unique challenges involved in parenting teens.
Jody offered ideas about how to approach some of the trickier issues that can come up when older children start to understand or ask about the divorce in more “grownup” ways. One question that came up was what to do if your teenager asks what went wrong between you and your ex? One approach Jody suggested is to stay open and curious, asking your teen what they noticed about you or your ex that prompted them to ask you these types of questions.
If you missed our June Salon in Kelowna, you’re in luck – we will be providing these opportunities to learn from and connect with others on a regular basis. The next Kelowna Salon is tentatively scheduled for September 2017, so please check our Salon page regularly for updates!