When going through divorce and separation, most parents try their best to ensure that their children are all right while struggling with all kinds of emotions, thoughts and feelings.
I have been through divorce, twice, and although the first was over 20 years ago and the second over 11 years ago, I can still recall poignant moments that have caused me to turn to my children and apologise for having put them through such difficult and life changing times.
Truth is no matter how much you try, divorce or the physical separation of the parents, will always be a watershed moment for the children.
They may not remember the date, time and how it happened, but they will know that their home is not as it used to be. Something has changed.
There is nothing I found more difficult than being civil to my exes, at a time when I would have much rather have them vanish as though wings sprouted from their shoulders and the wind carried them far, far away, never to return. I’m sure they felt the same about me.
But I had their children. Their children loved them and they loved their children just as much as I did. Their children wanted them and most importantly needed them in their lives. (Today we all remain good friends and our children from other relationships, spend time together. I couldn’t ever ask for a better outcome.)
You can never take the place of the other parent.
As often as possible, I would try and look at challenging situations through my children’s eyes. I don’t say this figuratively speaking but literally so. I would sometimes, actually close my eyes, so I can get “in there” and that experience would help steer me back to protective parent mode.
When you are in “that place”, you know the one where you feel nothing but sheer disdain for your ex or your soon-to-be-ex, bring your child’s image into focus. Think about who they are, that they never chose this.
That they live with hope, belief and conviction that you, not only as the adult in the room, but more importantly as their parent, will always do the best thing for them, even when it suits you in the very, very least.
If you are purposefully and voluntarily interrupting and disrupting your child’s life by keeping your ex away ask yourself why.
Ask yourself who is the best person to create a better future for your children now that the separation has happened. Who is best placed to remove all anxiety, discontentment, confusion, unpleasantness and sadness from your child’s life better than you.
What will it cost you to say yes to putting them first? What will it really, truly cost you?
What would it mean for your children to come home from your ex’s, to open arms, kisses and hugs (as much as you hated them being away) ready to listen and hear how their time went?
How will not fighting or arguing in front of your children work for them? How will it hurt you to avoid confrontation while they are there – goodness, by all means call, text, WhatsApp, email each other once the children are in bed and call each other all the names under the sun if you want, but keep them out of it, don’t let them hear you and don’t let them see you.
Remember, a persistent caustic and conflict-ridden environment changes whom your children are. Think about that.
If you’re struggling with coping with divorce and separation then do let me know. You really, really don’t have to deal with it on your own.