I never expected IT to happen. IT was not the plan I had for myself or for my sweet baby girl. But, IT stared me straight in the face, a nasty giant overwhelming reality, DIVORCE.
I was 23 with a 1 year old and suddenly a whole new world was staring back at us. I did not believe in divorce, I never saw myself in this place but it was now my reality. It was not who I was, but it was happening. Whether I liked it or not, divorce was happening.
In that moment, my entire world came crashing down. The greatest pain for me was not the loss of something I had hoped for but for my sweet baby girl who would now live with the reality of divorced parents.
The picture perfect plan I had for her was now changing.
My story is not just one that I have lived but one that so many of you sweet Moms and Dads face as well. It was NOT our plan but it is now our reality and we are now living in a world where we are raising our children of divorced parents.
As parents we worry for our children whether they are from divorced homes or not. We worry about who they will marry, what they will grow up to be, the friends they will surround themselves with and the struggles they will face. Our list of things to worry about is vast and as they get older it grows.
I especially worry for my oldest, the one coming from a split family. Although our family dynamic with her dad’s side of the family is now good, she has to face a reality that is so far beyond her maturity.
Her dad and I are both remarried and she now has 2 sets of parents who think that she is the bees knees but it was a hard road to get us there. A road that affected her. A road that we are still walking that is full of learning and growing for all of us. Although all of her parents now get along, the reality for our girl is that her families are split and this will always affect her.
In order to keep HER at the forefront of the situation I had to write down important things that I knew some days I would need to be reminded of. Things that may seem so apparent but yet are easy to forget when dealing with the sensitive subject of divorce.
I wrote them down and would refer to them if I ever needed a gentle reminder for myself. Not that they are in anyway the fix all to any problem, but here are 5 little thinkgs that help put things in perspective for me in order to help make this co-parenting things a little easier.
1. Encourage them to Talk and LISTEN
This is so important when raising kids in general not just those of divorced parents, let them talk and just listen. Just like you need to call and vent to a girlfriend your little ones need to be able to get it off their chest too. So, listen to them and let them tell you how THEY feel. LISTEN and don’t interrupt with YOUR feelings, just LISTEN! (BTW this is super hard for me!)
2. This is NOT FAIR
Sometimes in divorce the pain is so great and the situation so icky that we lose sight of the fact that just because we are the ones getting divorced the divorce is actually happening to them. Our children are the victims in these situations and it is NOT FAIR. My daughter gets angry sometimes and expresses this very thought and in return I have to remind her that she is correct, this is NOT FAIR for her and it is a-ok to feel that way.
Get counseling not just for you but also for them. Yes, listening and allowing them to talk to you is important but having a neutral outsider for them to chat with is so important. No matter how neutral you try to be when talking with your child you are still biased to your side of the story and they know that. Sometimes no matter how safe your child feels talking to you they will still stifle themselves in fear of hurting you but they need the outlet to express themselves fully. Find somewhere for them to talk a church, counseling center, school counselor etc.
4. Leave it at the Door
This may be the hardest thing to remember after a divorce but over time I PROMISE it will get better. Leave it at the door, what does this mean? It means that when it’s time to share your child with the other half to leave your hurt, anger, paperwork, etc at the door. Refer back to #2, this is not fair to your child and this situation is AWKWARD sauce for them! Leave yourself at the door and remember this is about them. Make it as easy as possible. And for goodness sakes, don’t say anything negative about their other parent to them.
5. It will all be OK!
I remember the first few months after my divorce I just kept asking if everything was going to be ok. And you know what, it is. Everything IS ok. When you are in the darkness of the reality of divorce it is hard to see through to where you can be but, hang tight you will be ok. I 100% know and believe that God is bigger than all of this, He is bigger than divorce, bigger than any trial you will face, bigger than anything your child will encounter and HE LOVES YOU! He can turn your ugly situation upside down and use it for His good.
Divorce is a lifelong battle and I do not pretend to think that these 5 little tips will solve all problems. Some situations are really tough and unfair but be encouraged, be encouraged that you will get through this and so will your kiddos!