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12 Experiences Children Of Divorce Can Never Forget

12 Experiences Children Of Divorce Can Never Forget

About half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. How many children need therapy because of this, we’ll never know. On the flip side, children with unhappily married parents might also be a little affected.

Either way, Mom and Dad, from the time you were together to now, the memory of your divorce remains etched in many of our minds. In fact, here are 12 experiences we children of divorce may never forget:

1. We remember the good times

When we sat together as a family at the dinner table, played games, and laughed. We look back fondly on our holiday traditions. Or the times we all piled into the car and took family road trips, playing 20 Questions and singing “B-i-n-g-o” all the way.

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2. We remember the arguments

When you looked mad, raised your voices, and called each other names. We felt scared when this happened – worried you might leave one another, or us.

3. We remember the moment you told us you were getting a divorce

How you said, “We don’t love each other anymore, but we still love you,” and “It’s not your fault.” We can still picture where we were sitting, and the room all around us – much like you might remember where you were when you learned John F. Kennedy or John Lennon was shot.

4. We remember how the news of your divorce made us feel

We may have cried our eyes out, or – if we were too young to understand what “divorce” meant — we may have just pretended to be sad so as to not hurt your feelings. The real tears would come later when the reality of our new situations without one of you at home sunk in.

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5. We remember the first night you tucked us in after the news

You asked us how we felt. Hugged us a little longer. Disguised your tears in your attempt to stay strong for us.

6. We remember visiting your new home after the split

It was small, but nice. Empty, but clean. A seemingly lonely space, but a place where we could have you all to ourselves, with your full and undivided attention.

7. We remember your struggle

How we had to tighten our belts for a while so you could make ends meet. Do the laundry and wash the dishes more often. Or eat more TV dinners and takeout than ever before. All of it was character building, and kind of fun.

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8. We remember being spoiled

You felt guilty for getting divorced. We knew and capitalized on this – asking for and getting sweets at the grocery store, new clothes and toys and later bedtimes.

9. We remember your first new boyfriend or girlfriend

It was weird to see you with your rebound guy or gal. At least at first, we didn’t like this person – or even how you were behaving for that matter – but we pretended to out of politeness.

10. We remember watching you lose and then find yourself

We recall seeing you alone, fending for yourself, and eventually finding your stride. Like a metamorphosis, you came out of the transformation from married to newly single a changed, better, happier person.

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11. We remember how you conducted yourself

Everything you said about your ex – our other parent – remains etched in our minds to this day. If you kept your comments positive, we turned out OK. If you revealed too much about why our Mom or Dad drove you to divorce, we needed therapy to process what you were saying before falling in love, getting married, and starting families of our own.

12. We remember the big picture

We realized how much better off we were being raised by the separate, happier versions of you. How you taking care of yourself by ending your unhappy marriage was ultimately what was best for us.

Unhappily married parents: if you decide you’re better apart than together, make your divorce as easy as possible on your children. Be polite to each other, and positive when speaking about one another in front of your kids. You might also benefit from checking out Dr. Phil’s 9 Biggest Divorce Mistakes That Impact Your Kids.

Children of divorce: take some time to reflect on how your parents’ split made you feel then and now. Imagine what your life might have been like if your parents stayed together, yet remained unhappy. Appreciate how your parents’ divorce helped each of them take better care of themselves so they could take better care of you.

Featured photo credit: Basket with Colored Easter Eggs/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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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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