Monday, April 3, 2017

Adjusting to Divorce

Do you find yourself still angry at your ex-spouse? Has it been several years since you and your child’s other parent split? The first few years will probably be met with mixed emotions. Relief, anger, sadness, hurt, embarrassment, and depression are many emotions you’ve probably felt at different times if you were the one “left behind”. When the other parent remarries and/or has another child, feelings you thought disappeared may resurface again. This is normal human behavior. However, if you find yourself still angry or bitter several years after your split or unable to co-parent with your child’s parent, perhaps it is time to take additional action to help yourself (which will help your children also).

If you are the parent who made the decision to leave your child’s other parent, you may still feel mixed emotions at times. Trying to deal with the changing roles can leave you angry and frustrated.

If you are the non-custodial parent, you will no doubt feel anger, sadness, and hurt at the loss of the role you were used to playing in your child’s life. You might experience guilt watching your children trying to adjust to the changes also. Remember that the time you spend with your child may have been minimized, but your importance to that child has not.

A child needs a physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy parent. If you are locked in your hatred because you perceived the other parent “wronged” you (which may or may not be true), you need to move beyond that and get on with your life. Seek professional counseling or talk to your minister/priest if you find that you can’t move on by yourself. Take classes, find a job you enjoy, make new friends. If you are emotionally dependent on your children and use them to fill every void in your life, you are putting the responsibility for your happiness on your children. This isn’t their responsibility. You need to make yourself happy.

Do you find yourself always in constant disagreement with your ex? Do you automatically say “white” when he/she says “black”? Is it really that difficult to acknowledge that the other parent may have a valid reason for saying what he/she is saying and it might benefit your children to listen? Chances are, they are telling you this because they care about your mutual child. Do not take it as a personal attack on yourself or your parenting skills. You don’t have to agree with it but don’t disagree until you’ve heard their side and discussed it thoroughly. You really aren’t helping your children by being constantly combative with their other parent.

Don’t surround yourself with negativity. Those people that were of great support to you in the beginning because they agreed with every angry and negative word you muttered may not be the people you need to be listening to five years down the road. Maybe you need an objective opinion…somebody to say, “Hey, it’s been four (five, six, seven…thirteen) years. Get on with your life. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and blaming the other parent. He/she has moved on. You need to move on.” It’s easy to surround yourself with “yes” people when you are having a self-esteem crisis; you want somebody to validate your feelings. If you are still depending on these same people to validate your behavior and feelings five years down the road, you need to take a hard look at your situation. Your family should be supportive but they shouldn’t allow you to continue to feel sorry for yourself, remain angry, or refuse to face the truth.

Let your child know that they did not cause the divorce. Let your child know that they are still loved by both parents even though the other parent doesn’t live with them anymore. Reassure your child that they will still see their other parent and let them know the schedule. Don’t use your child’s time with their other parent as a weapon. It isn’t yours to use. Give your child permission to love their other parent and any new people that enter their lives. You don’t want the children to feel a conflict with their loyalty to you. Don’t expect your children to take sides with you against the other parent. Let your child know that they will continue to be loved by both of you and you don’t expect them to stop loving the other parent because your relationship with him/her ended (your child’s relationship with their other parent didn’t end). You don’t have to like the other parent but you do need to recognize that your child loves the other parent and accept this.

Divorced parents can get along if they want to though it certainly can take a lot of work and may not be comfortable at first. If they work hard at it (for their children), two parents can learn to co-parent together. This will give your children what they want…both parents involved in their life. Don’t try to lock the other parent out because of your anger at him/her. Your relationship with the other parent does not involve the child’s relationship with their other parent. Separate your anger at the other parent from your responsibilities you have with the other parent toward your child.

Labels: Adjusting to Divorce

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