I have met this incredible woman, who I have been working with for the past 7 weeks. I couldn’t believe how positive she was towards her ex-husband. The relationship she now has with him amazed me. She made it a point to be friends with him for the sake of her children, herself and actually everybody concerned. Instead of running him down, and giving the kids a tainted view of their father, she has given them a sense of friendship, of belonging and of loving support. As we all know being rejected is one of the worst feelings children have to deal with while growing up. To me, she has done the ultimate a parent can create for their child: a nurturing, loving, safe environment for her children to grow up in.
Ask any mother - without hesitation, she would jump in front of a bullet or put her own life in danger to save her child. It’s not something you would even think about and maybe that’s what makes it easier because there is no time to think…you would just do it. What about the things that are a conscious choice, something that takes some time and a decision that needs to be made, possibly every day?
The day my husband and I decided to get divorced we promised we would make it as easy as possible for our two children (aged seven and eight at the time.) We realised that this was a “grown-up” problem and even though this was going to affect their lives, there was no need to drag them down into a situation they had no choice in. It was after all for myself, but also for them that I wanted to get a divorce. I know that sounds crazy, but I realised that my husband and I didn’t have the kind of relationship I wanted either of my children to have one day with their significant other. The fear of them ending up in the same situation scared the crap out of me.
Believe me, the practice of making it as easy as possible for the kids wasn’t easy at all and there were many times I had to bite my tongue and remind myself of the promise I had made to my children. It was a conscious choice I had to make over and over, again and then again! I mean: what kind of mother would I be, choosing to get divorced because I wanted more for them and then just screwing them up anyway by the actual process? That’s not the kind of mother I wanted to be.
My ex still came for dinner every now and then and we would also go to his house for dinner. I really think that helped the kids in the beginning because us telling them that they will always have a mom and dad that love them more than anything in the world weren’t just words, they could see it and feel it. I have remained close to my in-laws as they are just the kind of people you want to keep in your life and they were always there for us, no matter what. So we carried on doing the occasional family Sunday lunches and birthday lunches with my ex and his family. It was life as it used to be…
As the months passed, I was constantly waiting for the kids to act out, throw tantrums, their school marks to drop or see some change in their behaviour…three and a half years later…still nothing. They just carried on with life and I still have the same bubbly, warm happy children I’ve always had and they are both doing exceptionally well at school.
We still have family lunches together, the only difference is, my ex now has a girlfriend who joins us. I’ve had so many people tell me it’s weird and not normal how we do this. Yes, in the beginning, it wasn’t easy and even though she was and still is great with my kids, I had many moments where I had to tell myself to get the F@#$ over myself. It was a choice I made consciously for my children’s sake because the only thing that really changed is they had one more person in their life who loved them.
Through all of this, I learned there is no manual or recipe book on how to deal with these situations, you just do what is best for your family and your children and remind yourself they didn’t have a choice in this.
It all started with a decision. Then, choices had to be made, hard ones, sometimes hour by hour, day by day…and now it’s so normal it turned into our lifestyle. Getting divorced was liberating. I realised I was stronger than I thought I was. My new motto became “if I don’t have control over it, I am not going to worry about it” and in turn, I became a happier person, a better mother and I do know I did the right thing for myself and my children.
So all you parents who are going through or have gone through divorce remember your relationship with your ex will always give your children an idea of how relationships should be! So it is up to you to set a good example to the children in our lives as they become adults.