How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce



Divorces are already messy and painful for everybody involved - there really isn’t any way around that. But, there is a way you can lessen some of the suffering as you talk to your kids about divorce. You may be wondering where do you even begin? First of all, know that kids are more intuitive than you may even realize. They most likely have picked up on some discord even if they aren’t able to articulate it. Having some insight as to why might give them answers they have been looking for. Even so, that doesn’t lessen the impact that this difficult conversation will ensue.


As you prepare to talk to your kids about your divorce, here are 5 things to keep in mind:

1. Before even speaking to them you need to be prepared to receive their emotions
However these emotions come up needs to be accepted. Whether they are angry, withdrawn, weepy, distant, or confused - you and your partner need to be a safe space and not tell them how to feel.

2. Be open and straightforward
If you speak in vague terms or metaphors that can be confusing to kids. Try to make your dialogue as clear as possible of what is happening and what they can expect to change in the coming weeks.

3. Keep it age appropriate Talking with a four-year-old is very different than speaking with a fourteen- year-old. Try to refrain from anything too meta for younger children as well
as anything too dumbed down for the older ones.

4. Ask them if they have any questions
They may have friends’ parents who had a messy divorce and are already picturing what your situation would be. Open up the conversation to talk with them what it may look like and ease confusion and expectations.

5. Remind them that you will always be a family Regardless of living situations, you both will always be their parents and this does not affect your love for them whatsoever. You cannot repeat this enough - say it over and over not only in this conversation, but in the coming days to validate and reassure them that they are going to be okay.


Sometimes it helps to have a neutral third party to talk to as well. Whether you secure a therapist for your child to talk to or one for you to have on hand. I’m happy to either be that for you or make a referral to a child psychologist that I trust for your child. Feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.

Sending you good thoughts and wishes as you begin this journey of uncoupling.

Podcast Feature: Mental Illness and Divorce




I was recently featured on the "Constructive Uncoupling with Judy Weigle" podcast to discuss Mental Illness and Divorce. This is a topic that hasn't been discussed often enough in our culture. Feel free to have a listen using one of the links below!

"Mental Illness has its own challenges, but when divorcing someone with mental health challenges Lee Miller has communication tips for a better result."
- Judy Weigle 

Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1YZHZxjcGvmcNA2c3BNXtX?si=GibV74SfRiqRpYPJslQWfA

The Downfalls of Over-Sharing and Emotional Texting


We all have that one distant relative - you know, the one who fleshes out their pettiness and drama through a long Facebook post, passive aggressive subtweet or novel-length text. If all of that sounds foreign to you, I have news for you: you may be that person!

With our ever-evolving digital world, so much of our communication is performed on a distant platform of social media, email, texting etc. While these are wonderful tools and mediums to use to stay connected to one another, they can also be a double-edged sword causing more destruction and harm than we even realize.

Here are two downfalls to be aware of as you craft your next social media post, text, email:

1.     There is a negative Impact in not being able to hear tone and intent
A sentence you type can feel completely innocuous to you, but another person can read it with an absolutely opposite tone than you intended. Communication is more than just the words we say - it is the inflection, facial expressions, emotion, and body language. Nearly all of those elements are lost when you aren't face-to-face. No need to filter everything you say through the lens of fearing you'll offend somebody,but be aware when someone else misconstrues something you post and be open to a dialogue about your intent.
 
2.     Drama and misunderstandings are by-products of emotionally driven thoughts.
If you are feeling your heart rate rise and face becoming flushed, that is your body informing you that you are being emotionally triggered. In this state, the brain automatically goes into "flight or fight" mode and the stable, reasoning portion of your brain turns off. This is a dangerous place to be if you become reactive. It can translate to drama and misunderstandings if you make your internal dialogue exposed while in this state.
 

If anything, live by the following rules and you can save yourself (and others) a lot of heartache and misunderstanding.

Before you post, ask yourself these types of questions:
 
·       Am I emotionally triggered right now and being reactive?
 
·       If I gave it 24 hours, would I be responding differently at a later time?
 
·       Is expressing this charged thought worth the clean up on the other side?
 
·       Does this warrant an interpersonal conversation?
 
·       Am I being petty?


Sometimes, breaking these patterns can be difficult. If you want to have someone to process it out loud with, feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.



Procrastination: How Do We Stop It?


As we talked about in our last article procrastination is a common human behavior, born out of a primal need to avoid discomfort if at all possible. Our brains are wired that way, yet our lives are structured so as to require prompt action, speedy reaction and efficiency in everything to maximize creativity. How do we align these two conflicting needs? The key is to find a way to minimize the discomfort which open the pathway in your brain that allows motivation and forces movement. 

Short formula: Ask yourself the following sequential questions
1. Am I avoiding this _____________ (fill in the blank of task, meeting, whatever) because I don’t like that activity, have no interest in it?
 
Or
 
2. I don’t feel competent to do the _____________.
Perfectionism is direct cause of procrastination: “If I can’t do it perfectly, I would rather just avoid it altogether."
 
If the answer is #1, then do the following:
·       Break the _____________ down into its smallest parts thinking carefully about what steps would need to be taken to get it completed. 
·       Set a time by which you will complete each step. 
·       Create and attach a personal reward to be received by you at the completion of each step (can be very small things depending on what you do that makes you feel good. Some examples are eat something healthy, go for a walk, take a nap, call a friend or family member, do something creative etc.)

If the answer is #2, then try these steps:
·       Decide who is the best person / resource that can help you understand and teach you the skills need to complete your _____________. This could be a person or even another resources like the library or Google.
·       Create a list of questions that you need answers to. 
·       Set up a day and time to contact or access the resource
·       Create a personal reward once you have the answers you needed
·       Allow yourself to trust that what you have learned we will be enough. There is no such thing as perfect. We live in an imperfect world and most of the time we had to find a way to be satisfied with “good enough “

If you need more substantial talking through the projects/meetings/tasks you are avoiding and think there can be deeper fears underlying, I'm available to help you process. Feel free to reach out to me for an appointment. You can either email me at leemiller.therapist@gmail.com or call my office at (310) 614-0323.