#6 Do Not Forget The Kids
One of the most difficult things you will have to do is support your children through your divorce. Especially if you have to do it on your own. Watching them hurt, not having satisfactory answers to their questions all the while trying not to paint your partner in a bad light can be too much to handle.
If your soon to be ex is mature (in the head) then you are fortunate. Many have had to deal with partners who were willing to hurt the children to prove points or hurt the other party. It is the worst form of pain. When you cannot shield your children from a pain caused by their own parent. It breaks you in ways you never thought possible.
From my experience and a few people around me, I have come up with some ways/ suggestions you can try to cushion them through this change. It will not be easy, but it will not always be painful I can guarantee that.
- Try not to speak negatively about the other parent in the presence of your children. Divorce is already hard on them, you do not want them burdened with picking sides. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing! A woman was called to school because her daughter was involved in a bullying incident. Her daughter had apparently called another girl a bitch. When the teachers talked to the young girl and asked her where she heard such a bad word from, the girl replied that her father usually refers to her mother that way on the phone when he drops them to school. What an unfortunate thing. You may be hurting, but do not drag the children in it no matter how big a bitch you think the other person is. Respect yourself.
- Try to keep the children in the same standard they are accustomed to. Children thrive on routine and familiarity. This is difficult if the other person is hell-bent on making you pay for sins that are yours or otherwise. If you are considering divorce, try to be practical about the process. Take steps to secure your children's future. Once you are on the outside, trying to reason with the other party is like trying to herd cats. You can always go the legal route if all else fails.
- Do not make your children your confidants. Many women do this. You cry to your kids and fill them in on everything that is happening between you and your partner. Children cannot handle this. No matter how mature you think they are. Look for your agemates and confide in them. Can you imagine the situation you are putting those children in when you go crying to them that their father has left and now you have no money? Please get a support group. Some trusted friends and or relatives and deal like a grown up!
- Try to be civil if you have to be in the same space as your ex and your children. You do not have to respond to everything. So what he is now wearing pink shirts and tight trousers because he is dating a twenty-two-year-old? He is no longer your monkey. He belongs to another zoo now. Mind your business.
- Do not bring men/ women home unless you are at the stage where you know the relationship is forever (ok we know nothing lasts forever but you get my drift no?). I will address women now because in most cases we are the primary custodians in the event of a divorce. Stop bringing every man home! Sheesh! Why would you want to expose your children to men you barely know yourself? Every weekend the kids have a new 'uncle'. Sometimes that uncle is a few years older than them. Let us respect ourselves and our kids. You can have all the sex you want, outside your house and away from your children.
- Allow your children to talk to you about what is going on without 'correcting' their feelings. Let them feel. They are bound to feel anger, fear, rejection etc. Let them talk through it. Do not decide what they should feel. Allow them some small rebellion. It gives them back their power. My daughter went through the stage of not wanting to use her surname. As long as it is harmless rebellion, allow them. They will get over it very fast. (I am not a psychiatrist. If you feel your children are not coping, seek professional advice!)
- Children are brought up by the village. It is the African way. Surround yourself and your children with good relatives and friends. Those who have your best interest and those of your kids at heart. Again, not all relatives are helpful. You must be very discerning.
Next week...You know better, but you do not do better...My story on dating.