Wouldn’t it be great if there was a system to organize your conversation about divorce? How easy would it be to have everything organized so that you know exactly what to say and when?
David Allen’s “natural planning” method does just that, and the beauty of the system is that while you might not realize it, you typically do these five things when accomplishing any task.
1. Define your principles and your purpose.
Ask yourself why you are going to talk to your kids about divorce, and define a specific and clear goal. Ultimately, you want your children to be happy in the long run, but what about in the short-term? What are your principles? What specific things to you want your kids to know during this conversation?
2. Envision the outcome.
Paint a clear picture in your mind of what the final result should look like. You’ll likely envision a successful co-parenting relationship with happy, well-adjusted kids who know their parents will love them no matter what.
3. Get ideas.
What can you do to achieve the outcome you envisioned in step two? This is typically an internal process, but if you’re overwhelmed, anxious or worried, use mind-mapping techniques or write lists to keep your ideas organized. For instance, if you’re worried about your children’s grades faltering, talk to their teachers and inform them of the change in family circumstances.
4. Organize everything.
Set priorities. What is most important to you? Other than your children’s feelings and ability to cope, do you place value on his or her relationship with your ex? Are you worried about school? Do you have concerns about how your children will be treated by their peers?
5. Identify the next actions.
Finally, investigate the actions you need to take to get the ball rolling. Before you speak with your children, decide how you and your spouse will answer each question and address concerns based on the actions and priorities outlined above.
So, how do you know when to stop planning? According to David Allen, the answer is “when you stop worrying about it.” Granted, discussing divorce with children is no easy task, and it will likely be at the forefront of your mind for some time, but continue to plan and strategize until your concerns are no longer taking over your every thought.