Lesson One – Stick To The Facts
Lesson Two – Letting Go Of His Family Obligations
Lesson Three – Deal With Reality
Lesson Four – Kids and Divorce
Divorce and kids is a sensitive subject and one that’s in a constant flow of ups and downs. It’s not easy parenting through a divorce, even when you’re the custodial parent which is my situation, for which I’m grateful. But when the kids have to deal with their dad, it’s hard and many times, I become the counselor because hey, who knew him better than his EX wife? The important word here is knew because frankly, I can’t say I know him now all too well.
But it makes for a sticky situation as I will not turn them against him. I want them to have a relationship with their father that is not fraught with hurt, but instead, full of love, even if that’s not the type of relationship I have with him. I’ve kept myself out of that relationship and I choose to be a kind listener when they need to vent. I offer suggestions and other points of view when they are mad or hurt. Not that I am defending him, but instead, I feel like I am protecting them and allowing them to see the full scope of the situation from an open accepting heart. They need their dad and he needs them.
However, it’s been tricky for me as I know much about my EX and his family values that don’t coincide with mine. I live my life the way I feel comfortable. I do what I feel is right regardless of their actions. I am teaching my kids by example how to navigate difficult relationships. I want them to learn how to love people for who they are and accept people (even me) when we’re not perfect in their eyes. And by the way, just for the record, I know I’m not perfect and they’ve let me know too!
Their dad is a good man at his core, otherwise why the heck would I have married him? I stand by that fact. I will let them vent about their frustrations with him because most of their complaints are/were mine as well so I get it. But when/if they cross the line, I remind them gently of his loving essence and the past good father that they remember. He has moved away so he doesn’t see them often and doesn’t always communicate with them like they need. He’s caught up in his own world which is how our marriage disintegrated. Though I couldn’t save my own relationship/marriage with him, I will always try to heal theirs because it’s important. They’re my kids, our kids, and they deserve to feel peace and love in their hearts. I know he loves them. I have no doubts. He’s just disconnected and the fact that physically he’s moved away doesn’t help, even though technology can keep us in touch better these days. He’s caught up in that me time, dare I call it a mid-life crisis?
So again, from my heart, I’m reminding you to hold your tongue when it comes to your EX and your kids. Whatever problems you have with him are your problems and not theirs. Their relationship with him and with you is separate from your ex-spousal relationship. Don’t put them in the middle! Let them be kids. It’s not their problem that you and he divorced. They are just the collateral damage of it and they are hurting.
Because let me remind you, like I reminded myself – you married him and you had kids with him. There was something between you that was good at one time. Don’t make it ugly. We can all change and lose the connection in a marriage. But it does nobody any good to bad-mouth him when you were once married to him. There’s a fine line with loyalty, I get it. But be kind as you would want him to be if/when the kids complain about you to him! Remember that!
Some people can get caught up in the hurt feelings so they want to hurt their EX, but using the kids is unfair to him, to you, but most of all – to the kids! Separate yourself from their relationship with their dad. Unless it’s abusive, let it be. If he’s really that much of a jerk then they will figure it out on their own in time. They will resent you if you point it out. Let them tell you how they are feeling and what their experiences are with him. And if they’re not sharing with you, please, get them someone to talk with – a counselor, a therapist or a trusted adult who can help them to heal too.
While you’re at it, get yourself one too so you’re not carrying the hurts from your divorce into your next relationship! Be free and open the loving space in your heart!