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7 Ways Children of Divorce Deal with Love and Relationships

7 Ways Children of Divorce Deal with Love and Relationships

Although there are numerous studies done on how divorce affects children and that children of divorce have a higher risk of failing at marriage than children of non-divorced parents, in this day and age, divorce itself doesn’t seem to surprise us and rather seems to be the norm.

Yet after surviving our parents’ divorce, some of us get stuck in our past hurt and end up struggling with nurturing our own romantic relationships. Apart from these limiting beliefs, here are some lessons learned while growing up as children of divorce, and unforeseen positives we discovered on the road to healing and moving on.

1. We assume relationships are bound to be broken.

When we witnessed our parents’ marriage crumbling, we may have adapted a pessimistic perception about love and relationships. We may stray away from the notion of marriage altogether to avoid the possibility of divorce in the future.

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Turn-around: Contrary to the uncertainty about lasting marriages, we hang in and try to work things out hoping that it will last forever. Divorce is not a viable option to us and not acceptable. We don’t easily give up and want to prove that our marriage survived and succeeded.

2. We try to avoid arguments at all costs.

We know arguments can turn ugly.  We might hide from difficult situations rather than confront the issues and resolve them, just to avoid arguments or uncomfortable emotions.

Turn-around: Most arguments start from lack of clarity. We understand good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. We believe that we can work through whatever problem we’re facing and are able to build the lasting relationship with open and honest communication.

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3. We doubt our mate and relationship.

We struggle with trust when working through our own relationship challenges, especially if we witnessed a breakdown of trust between our own parents. Fostering these feelings of betrayal will continue to affect us in our own relationships in the future.

Turn-around: Healthy relationships are built on trust. In order for us to love fully without disguising who we are, or holding back our true emotion, we need to be courageous to be vulnerable and trust our partners. We learn to let go of the pain and anger, and forgive ourselves and our parents. Although it may take time, we learn to empathize and understand what has happened.

4. We are immature attention seekers.

We play the blame game and act childish. We refuse to take responsibility for our own actions and blame others for everything. We act out to get the attention from our partners and, in an effort to avoid changes, we learned early on that it may be the only way we know how to cry out for affection.

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Turn-around: We are aware that it’s essential to articulate our expectations, our wants and needs to our partners in a relationship. When our needs and expectations aren’t met, it leads to tension, which mounts and turns into chronic frustration and anger. This eventually eats away at the love and happiness in a relationship. The more we give our partner love and respect, the more they return them.

5. We are afraid of being alone.

We understand that our parents went through a tough divorce, but we felt alone without support from them. If one parent left, it signaled us that they did not love us and did not want to be with us anymore. We felt tremendous loss. We felt abandoned and became resentful. We need constant reassurance that everything is okay and we are safe under the circumstances. We don’t choose our love. Instead, we want to be chosen in a relationship.

Turn-around: When we enter into a relationship we expect it to last, maybe even for the rest of our life. But in reality, lifestyles change and so do people. After watching our parents’ marriage dissolve into divorce, we eventually learn to assess our own relationship values, must-haves and deal breakers. Hence, love becomes a deliberate choice.

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6. We feel responsible for the divorce.

We feel our parents’ marriage ended because of something we said or did when we were young. We harbor this and feel guilty over losing the other parent in our life.

Turn-around:  We form tighter bonds with our family as we are facing the challenges together and know that we have each other to count on. We are very supportive of our parents and siblings in the end. We become more compassionate. We learn coping skills we never knew we had and feel stronger as a result of what we went through. We build resilience in the face of rough times.

7. We opt out for our own children.

We know what it’s like to be children of divorce, thus we do not want our own children to go through the similar challenges. Our fear that marriage could lead to divorce leads to a fear of failure. We are afraid that our divorce might label them negatively as children of divorce, just like us.

Turn-around: We show our children that we deserve to be in a satisfying and supportive relationship. We thrive to exhibit what a healthy relationship looks like and how to express love with one another. We want to become a role model in love for them.

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Kris Lee

Emotional health and communication writer

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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