What Your Kids Will Need, continued

        13)  "I really need you adults to learn how to

  • identify and assert your primary needs,

  • listen empathically to each other and me,

  • respect each other as equal family partners despite your disagreements, and

  • fix your and our problems!

When you fight and yell, or go quiet or run away instead of team up to separate the problems and fix them together, I get real scared and hopeless. I get angry too, because you're not doing your jobs! Then I feel guilty and ashamed, and I want to scream or cry or hide or run away."

        14)  "Speaking of that, I need each of you adults to know (a) what you want our family to grow into, (b) what your parenting job is, and I (c) need you to want to learn how to do your job well for both our sakes."

        15)  "I need to trust that (a) you feel hopeful about a good-enough future for all of us, and that (b) I'll be OK enough as an adult. When you sound or look sad or depressed too often, I lose hope and get scared. I also get worried and confused when you deny what I see and hear, or you tell me that I'm wrong."

     16) "I need to trust that you really care about these and my other needs, day by day. I need to feel that I really matter to you! Your words are far less important to me than what I see you doing or not doing.

        17) If I'm not used to naming my feelings and needs, show me what an adult sounds like naming theirs, and ask me about mine from time to time. Then  please listen to me! Help me accept that all people have needs, that being 'needy' is not being weak, and that it's good to try and fill our own needs, as long as we don't put them above other people's needs."

        18) "I need you adults to find help fast, if you can't fix our big family problems by yourselves. When I see you doing that, I feel more like asking for help when I need it, without feeling like a wimp." And…

        19) "I need you adults to show me what being genuinely loved looks like, feels like, and sounds like. I also need to see what it looks, sounds, and feels like when two grownups really love each other, specially when they're angry, confused, or scared." And also...

        20) "I need you parents to respect my boundaries, my dignity, my integrity, and my rights as a person. Please do that because you want to, not because you have to. Just because I'm smaller and younger and know less than you, I’m still as much of a person as you are. I need the same things that you grownups need, every day." And...

        21) "I need you to read this memo from me and these wise guidelines. Show these to my other adults, and talk together about them. I need all of you to keep those ideas in mind as you lead our family. They say really important things that I can't say myself."

        22) "I also need you to stay aware that even if we're not talking together, we're communicating (decoding messages and meanings) all the time. Most of the messages we decode from each other come through our eyes! Do you know what your actions have meant to me recently?"

        Add your own need-statements from your child/ren...

+ + +

        Sit quietly now. Breathe well, and experience the flow of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Consider journaling about them, as an explorer.

        When your Spirit is troubled, your personality subselves are disorganized, and you're not getting your primary needs met well enough, it's tough to keep these many concurrent child-needs in mind and fill them the way you want to. Affirm without guilt or anxiety that you have real limits, and that all you can do at any time is your local best.

        Talk back to your Inner Critic and Perfectionist subselves if they rant too much! Letting these myopic, well-meaning subselves insist that you should do better than your best is self abuse. It signals that you're ruled (locally) by a false self. It increases the burdens of the inner children who carry your old guilts and undeserved shame, and hinders you from providing the refuge you all need.

        If you're skeptical about some of these typical children's needs, reality-check them with other veteran parents, clinicians, and the real experts: each of your kids. If your kids are grown, review the needs above and see if you think they've "outgrown" any of them...

+ + +

        Unless you’re emotionally enmeshed (boundary-less) or codependent with your parents, it’s easy to be unaware of their needs and feelings as you re/divorce. You are not responsible for filling their needs, and it can help you all to talk honestly and clearly together if you empathize with them. Have you ever paused to imagine…

colorbutton.gif What Do Your Parents Need?

        Seniors have universal and personally-unique needs. Your parents' universal needs probably include…

regularly knowing (a) how you’re feeling, and (b) how they can best help you and any grandkids as your marital decisions unfold;

knowing if and why you’re deciding to divorce, and (b) whether you’ve exhausted all other options;

venting their feelings, needs, and opinions, and being respectfully heard, if not agreed with; and your parents probably need to...

stay clear on their boundaries with you and your kids, and to not take on your problems or give you theirs; and to...

grieve their own set of losses (i.e. to feel and express confusion, anger, and sadness), and to support you and their grandkids as you grieve yours;

        And your parents and in-laws probably need to…

face and heal any shame and guilt that they “failed” you and their grandkids as caregivers – specially if this is your second or third divorce, and/or they divorced when you were a child;

make thoughtful decisions together on if and how to continue relations with your partner and your in-laws – specially if you mates have a child; and they need to…

settle any religious or spiritual confusions, anxieties, and judgments they each may have about your divorce; and to…

decide how and when to talk to their friends about what’s happening to you all;

And your senior adults need to…

seek and accept emotional and spiritual help to keep them clear and resilient through all your family-system's changes; and to…

resolve any confusion or conflicts about what your divorce means to their wills and estate plans; and they need to …

balance the needs of their other kids and grandkids with their own and yours as you all move through your family reorganization together over many months; and also to…

have periods of rest and refreshment from reducing their discomforts; and they probably need to…

decide honestly if they need professional help in filling all these dynamic needs, as they try to balance their daily lives.

        Add any other relevant parental needs that you’re aware of…

        Again, pause, breathe, and notice what you’re thinking and feeling. Would you feel comfortable discussing this needs-inventory with each of your parents and in-laws? Would your mate? Doing so is a chance to build intimacy and empathy among you all, if you can help each other stay centered amidst the welter of emotions that will probably arise…

colorbutton.gif Recap

        This Lesson-4 article proposes that divorce starts in courtship, when wounded, needy, unaware partners commit to the wrong people, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time. It then offers three primary reasons for the U.S. divorce epidemic: (psychological wounds + unawareness and ignorance +  incomplete grief), and 16 alternatives to divorce for first-marriage and stepfamily couples. The article ends with a summary of what typical kids and parents need if mates divorce.

        For more perspective, also see..

  • keys to a satisfying primary relationship

  • Q&A about divorce and divorce recovery, and...

  • this divorce-recovery worksheet

        Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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Updated  June 21, 2013