Amicable or not, getting divorced is never going to be a picnic.
When there are children in the equation, things can be exponentially more challenging/maddening. Aside from the initial concern of “How is this ordeal affecting my delicate offspring?” there are a variety of other issues sure to pop up. There’s the time you will have to spend apart from your kids, their newfound perception of you and a host of other mentally taxing dilemmas only a single-parent can comprehend.
Here’s a list of the common conundrums that we’ve identified, and how they ultimately can translate into positive experiences in the end.
- “You’re no fun!” – nothing can be as infuriating as hearing about how much FUN it is at your ex-spouse’s domicile of debauchery. “Dad let’s me eat Count Chocula for dinner!” …sorry, guess you’re the über boring one since you care about your child’s health.
positive spin: When your children are older/grown, they will recognize they you were the parent who was truly looking out for their welfare, and not just providing easy/popular solutions.
- It can feel a trifle lonely when your child is at your ex’s, ostensibly having a good time without you. You used to be instrumental in everything they did – now you may feel like your watching from the sidelines.
positive spin: When your child comes home and tells you how much they missed you. This will never get old.
- You now have to monitor every little word that escapes your mouth, as your spawn gobbles them up and giddily reiterates them to your ex. Heaven forbid if you should accidentally let a remark specifically about your former spouse slip out…
positive spin: Realize that the exact opposite applies. If your ex says anything about you, it is instantly recorded by your kids as well – so they need to watch their mouths too.
- Living in constant fear of whose “side” your shared friends will be on. Whichever parent these people pledge allegiance to will be perceived by the tykes and this inevitably causes them/you anxiety.
positive spin: Once things are settled, you then know who your real friends truly are.
- Determining which rules will be steadfast and should be observed in both parents’ homes. Is mom saying the kids can stay up to watch Jimmy Fallon, while you want them tucked in before the early edition news broadcast starts?
positive spin: No matter how contentious your relationship may be with your ex, there will always be some common ground you can reach regarding your kid’s upbringing.
- Having to hide the emotional lilt in your voice because you physically can’t give your baby a ‘goodnight kiss’ over the phone.
positive spin: Again, when you are reunited with your child, their hugs feel that much more magical.
- Having to show up “childless” to certain extended family functions/holidays because your kid is enjoying the day with your ex and their bizarro family.
positive spin: Secretly knowing that they have more fun with you and your (possibly equally crazy) clan.
- The stabbing pain of hearing your little one cry out “I need mommy/daddy!” …when that parent isn’t you. It never was all that great before to listen to how you were unneeded in a situation of tantamount importance to them, but now it holds a truly acrimonious tinge.
positive spin: Undoubtedly, there are times when they are with your ex and shriek for you in that “end of the world” tone that only children not getting exactly what they want can attain.
- When you have to ignore/feign that you don’t see the close-knit, smiley family (with both a Mom AND Dad in attendance) enjoying their Pizza Hut dinner feast, while you and you child somberly eat in solitude.
positive spin: Having the time to focus all of your attention on your kids when you are with them (without the potential distractions of a partner who always seems to want to argue).
- Not hearing your child’s laughter in the halls when they are at your ex’s for the night.
positive spin: Having license to engage in passionate, grunt-inducing intercourse with a new lover and not having to worry in the slightest that your kid will hear.
- When you finally have a new and possibly serious beau, deciding if and when the right time is to present them to your kids. Will they instantly resent him/her? Also, maybe this new partner is not good with kids? (Clearly, a deal-breaker – but truly stinks if you like them otherwise)
positive spin: Inadvertently, your kids can help you quickly weed out people you may be looking at with rose-colored glasses, who are really not going to be great mates in the long run.
- Feeling the inverse: does your child like your ex’s new “person” more than you?? Will you be “replaced”?
positive spin: When these type of questions unsuspectingly pop up in your brain, it’s a good time to take a moment and truly assess the situation. When you remind yourself that these fears are completely unfounded and irrational, it gives you real clarity and peace of mind.
- Trying to deal with/suppress feelings of supreme GUILT. Do my kids think the break-up is my fault? Are their new problems in school/ extra-curricular activities/PlayStation ultimately my doing??
positive spin: If you are really worried about these things, it’s always good to open the lines of communication with your child. As long as you present any issues in a sensitive manner, your child may be forthcoming and tell you their own fears. Then the two of you can come to a real place of resolution.
- Fighting to stay awake at work the day after you had to stay up with your baby as they did battle with a scary cold through the entire night. When it’s “your night,” being a single parent means having all the responsibly squarely on you.
positive spin: At least you get to sleep in when it’s “their” turn.
- Worrying about how screaming matches with your ex may have negatively affected your children.
positive spin: Finally letting out that built-up, monumental sigh of relief when you realize you can love and raise your child in a home without constant spousal bickering, mistrust and tension.
- Staying up at night, wondering if you’ve been doing the right thing.
positive spin: When it finally dawns on you that your child will love you, no matter what.