How to produce happy children from divorced parents
“Divorced parents” is one of the most devastating stamps your children could have during their childhood. And I share that as a divorced parents’ child. The most important and amazing people in the little humans’ world don’t love or even like each other anymore. Now that’s serious!
“It is not attention that the child is seeking, but love” Sigmund Freud
I had “the luck” not to know what life with two parents looks like, as mine got separated when I was one year old and got divorced when I was three years old. But my very first memory of my childhood is how my father comes to my grandmother’s house to pick me up, with all of my belongings, and takes me away to live with him from that day on. My mother was crying, and she was covering her face with her hands. My father hugged her, and I was just wondering in a very childish way what is going on.
Just a few moments after that the red car drove away from my sister and my mother, and my life as a divorced parents’ child began. That was 27 years ago.
It’s hard! No matter the age it’s hard to live a life with one parent. You will either miss your mother’s hug, smell or voice, or your father’s support and feel of safety.
But I cannot blame anyone for what happened. If two people decide that they’re no longer happy together, I fully stand behind the idea not to be together anymore. With or without children.
Happy kids of divorced parents exist! I may not be one of them, but I guess if I cannot be a good example, I could be a bad one…?
Tell the truth
Even today I am not sure about the real reasons for my parents’ divorce. Someone had enough… of what? Someone didn’t like.. what?
Children have to know what was the reason for the divorce. It’s going to pass years and years before they fully understand the situations and agree that divorce was a “good idea”. But they’ll get there, believe me! Anyhow, they deserve to know the reason you and your partner are not together anymore. Even if they’re too small to understand what’s going on, they have to be prepped and informed that their mommy and daddy are not going to live together anymore.
Keep it as simple as possible and don’t go too detailed if the children are smaller. But be well prepared with information if they’re older, in the teenage years for example. Children these days are more able to coop with information than we want them to. They’re smart and connects the dots quickly, so be sure they’ve got the dots they need for the right conclusion.
Misunderstanding of the reality will pull them away from both of you. They may feel lied, left outside of your world, not trustable or even guilty for the situation.
Take away the feeling of blame
Every child will have at some point the sense of guilt that his parents don’t get along because of him. Your primary task during the fights with your ex-partner is to prove to your child that this is not the case. It’s easy to get to the point where you two are fighting for one subject, and that leads to another subject. Including problems with the kids and the decisions for their life. But children shouldn’t know about any fight that’s caused because of something that concerns them.
It is very common for the kids to blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. But once they’re sure that “everything is because of them” the way out of the situation” is very hard. They may close themselves, develop depression or anxiety, or start looking for drugs, alcohol…
Ask for help!
There’s nothing wrong to ask for help when it’s about your children. Like every parent, your concerns are more how they will coop with the situation. Children’s psyche is fragile, and the worst part is that the scars we get in our childhood are the ones that chase us all of our life. Unfortunately, you know you cannot protect your children from everything in this world. However, if you could make the things at least more manageable and comfortable – why not?!
If you need more help I would strongly recommend you to have a look at Dr Stephen Mayville’s parenting class: Click Here! It has the answer to every single question that may occur during the hard divorcing process and after that. If there’s a moment in your life when you should choose less risk and to play it safe it’s that moment. Insecurities will affect your children even if you try to hide it so check out Dr Mayville’s website for more help.
Keep them informed
I was seeing my mother only once a year, for few weeks at the summer. We lived too far away from each other to be different, so the plan was simple.
But if your case is not the same than you have specific hours, days or weeks to look after your children. Let them know what the plans are. Tell them days or even weeks before everything happens. In the beginning will be extremely weird and uncomfortable for the children to get used to the idea “me, mommy and daddy time” is gone. So they have to know where the other parent stands and what the plans are.
Be respectful to your ex
I love my father. He has a tough personality, he’s stubborn and doesn’t like to talk but he loves me to bits, and I love him too. The situation was not that easy though when I was visiting my mother every summer. She would spend hours every day spitting poison towards him. And it’s not easy to admit it, but on some points, she had the right to do so. But not in front of my sister and me.
Dear ex-married couple,
You used to be together. You used to love each other so much that you decided to get married. You created a miracle together – your children. Please, appreciate the choices you made and don’t cross the line of the hate. Or even if you do hate the other so much that you cannot stand to be in the same room (or city) with him, do not make a mistake to talk over and over again against him in front of the children. That pulls them away from the significant another half of their world. And unless that other half has a dangerous behaviour or life-threatening habits there is no reason for the children not to love or respect him/her.
Check: TOP 7 REASONS FOR DIVORCE
You don’t expect your children to go through the situation with the same speed as you did, do you?
Every day may be different, and they could go through the same process over and over again. They will have questions – be patience and answer as many as you can. They will have feelings you wish they don’t – be patient and don’t make them feel guilty about it. They will have anger, frustration and sadness – be patience and support them through any of those.
And develop patience for yourself as well. I know, you have so many things to take care of, to think about, to do… But your primary goal is to keep your children safe and spare them as much pain as possible.
Be careful with signs that the things go over the edge. Everything may look more than perfect on the outside. You may even wonder how good your children coop with the divorce. You may be too into your own grief and not notice what happens under the surface.
Be alert if the children’s behaviour change at school, if they start bringing bad grades or show too much anger here and there. Some children could develop eating disorders or reach out to drugs or alcohol. Listen and be aware of any change that happens in your children’s mind.
Keep the kids together if possible
The first time I spend more than two weeks with my sister was when I finished high school and moved in with my mother. We managed to fill part of the wholes we had as siblings but many of them we will never fill. We will never share sibling’s moments, and that makes us sad.
If it’s possible to keep the children together – do it. They are not just another thing you have to share 50/50 with your ex. Or even if it’s a must (that was the case with my parents), give them as much time together as you can. The bond between siblings is not only very powerful but essential too. They will be able to support each other all of their life, and they’re the only people that could fully understand what is it to be a divorced parents’ child.
I could write a book on that subject. The number of step-brothers and sisters moving in and out of my room as a child is a number I try to forget.
Stay focus on how your children are processing the new situation – living only with you. I completely agree that you deserve to be happy with someone else again. You should give yourself a chance to find someone that you could call a partner again. Someone to help you in difficult moments, share the smiles or just to ask how you are. I even encourage you to look for someone.
Nothing can convince me that if you’re divorced and are looking after your kids on your own, you should be focused only on their happiness.
One day your children will leave your house. They will have their friends, their own family and their own young ones. They will still love you and visit you. But at the end of the day, they will go home. You have the full right to fight for your happiness. You must do it.
But while choosing another partner in life, be aware that you come in a package, and probably the other person does too. Don’t ever rush into a relationship or to introduce your new date to your kids. And make sure your children don’t feel like they “must” like your new love.
Get to a point when what happens is not just a flirt. And the person you’re seeing knows about your children and is completely into the situation. Give it time before you make the meeting.
I found out that my father was dating one of the teachers in my school from the other kids. It was shocking, and it hurt me because I denied it until I got home and asked him.
You have to tell your children you’re seeing someone if that concerns them. If they don’t have any connection with the other, you could keep it a secret for a while.
The main worry your children may have while you’re dating someone, is that you don’t give your love only to them anymore. You’re not going to spend time together anymore, and they have to share you with a stranger. Especially if the new person in your life has children as well. Don’t push the things and make sure your child is totally ok with it.
Don’t be a single parent
Even though you’re not together anymore, you and your ex-partner have to share the responsibility for the children. You’re still equally important to them, and the ideal case is to be equally involved in their life as well. Communicate with the other parent on subjects relevant to your children. That could compensate the feeling of loss of extraordinary moments for both of you.
Remember, no one will ever care for your children as much as you and the other parent.
Think of yourself
Yes, your children are very important. But for them to feel happy and loved, you have to feel happy and to enjoy yourself too. Unhappy parent with anger issues, depression or anxiety cannot raise happy children.
After the grief goes away, make sure you’re looking back to the world with bright eyes, and you’re giving yourself another chance to be happy. No matter if it’s going to be alone or with someone else.
Of course, you love your children, what was I thinking!? Well, then don’t forget to tell them that!
I really don’t remember if my mother had ever told me she loved me… I know she does, but I never heard it from her.
Yes, we should listen to the actions of the people, not their words. I get that. But a child will always need the assurance. The confirmation that when you stopped loving mommy/daddy, that didn’t erase the love for them. These words give the instant heartwarming feeling of safety to the children. Don’t forget that.
Spend time together
No matter if you have found someone else or you’re giving yourself time. Spend time with your children. Go out, play, go to watch a movie, go shopping, have special dinners, laugh and love. Your kids will need the attention and will remember those moments.
And at the end – a small message from a divorced parents’ child to everyone that goes on that road.
Dear divorced parent,
One day everything will come into places. One day they will understand completely why you’re not together and why that was for the best.
But this day will come after many years of their own experience in love and relationships. And until that day happens you will have to be patience, mindful and loving parent.
You will have to prove the end of the marriage is not the end of the happy life, happy parent-child relationship or happy future.
I’m sorry, but the responsibility is yours.
Please, don’t forget that whatever you went through during these months or years, is something that your children went through as well. And they don’t see the world the same way as you do.
But they will remember the love more than the struggles, the support more than the tears and the understanding more than the sadness.
Don’t be divorced parents, be loving parents!