There is no easy answer to divorce. Every family that experiences divorce experiences pain, grief, anger, fear, guilt and especially feelings of sheer sadness.
If you have suddenly been confronted with single parenthood as a result of a divorce, it is a crucial time for you to realize that you must accept change as best you can and move toward revitalization of you and your children’s lives. However, that is always easier said than done. An important factor to look for and to seek out during this crucial time is a good support system. An example can be your church pastor or group, a private professional counselor trained to handle these issues, a good friend or even members of your own family. You will need help getting acclimated to your new position and, at times, this can be relatively hard to handle alone while you are going through all the emotional changes divorce can bring.
Another important factor to apply is positivity. Being positive will help during challenging times. Again, you might say, “easier said than done.” I agree. However, focusing on the negative aspects of your situation gets you where? Exactly….. absolutely no where! Not to mention, constant negativity makes a child’s transition in divorce ten times as hard to trudge through. First, they have to deal with what some have compared to a “death” blow to their entire existence with their parents divorcing so in fact, negativity (i.e., involving them in grown folks business or disparagement of your ex-spouse, etc.) during this time only causes them further pain.
If you are in a new remarriage and trying to reinvent and reinvigorate your family, it is so important to communicate with your children about the changes taking place in their lives. Children are smart and know when things have gone awry in their lives. They are still in a very fragile acceptance mode with a new remarriage and need stability and lots of care. Predictability fosters security for children. Not allowing their whole life to change because of your divorce is crucial. Keep some sense of normalcy. Keep them in the same activities, if you can. Communicate with them about their feelings and the changes taking place around them. By doing so, you are teaching them how to handle adversity and protecting and preparing them for further changes that may arise in the future. We often think that if we alter our children’s reality that we are saving them from hurt and pain. As I said above, children are very intuitive human beings. Not only that, but “protecting” them from reality is not properly preparing them for life.
As I mentioned above, the main component and most integral part of reinvigorating your family is support. Co-parenting first and supporting your children together will help them accept the changes being made in a “positive” way. As we often state here at Today’s Modern Family, there are never “ex-parents” only “ex-spouses.” Another key component is committing to co-parenting with your ex-spouse on a healthy level so as to not interrupt your child’s relationship with the other parent. In other words, the drama between the two of you shouldn’t have to be your child’s drama nor should he/she have to carry that load on their shoulders. They want to love both parents and have the right to do so. Again, this is where being positive plays a major role. In other words, being good co-parents makes the road your children will have to travel a little less bumpy.
If you are living in a new step-family or are about to embark on the path of step-parenthood, keep in mind that your expectations must be in line with the reality of your new position and situation. The children involved do not have to fall in love with you right away and probably won’t. On the other hand, the same holds true for you and you are not a bad step-parent if you don’t love your step-child right away. That relationship will build over time. If you are a bio-parent, allow your child the opportunity to learn about his/her step-parent on their own terms. Do not compete. Do not force your opinions on your children. Doing so, will allow you to open the door for your children to make his/her own choices and form their own individual opinions. That is what you would teach them otherwise if you were still married and in your nuclear family and what you would want in return from your ex-spouse, correct? Your choices will have a direct effect on the positive or negative energy that your child brings into their new found life as a stepchild.
Children need to feel that they are a part of each of their parents and that means their parents’ families. Accepting that your own feelings and views about your ex-spouse or his/her new partner are just that…YOUR feelings and views. Not forcing them and making them issues for your children only benefit them. It allows them the freedom of expressing their own feelings and emotions, and allows them to feel validated.
By nurturing not only your children but yourself as well, during this time, you will be setting a clear example of what it means to effectively co-parent and to reinvent and reinvigorate your new life.
Peace & Blessings,