The well-known adage “don’t cry over spilt milk” is a perfect message to put on your fridge, and it’s more appropriate now than ever. Parents of divorce are (and must be) survivors, and when feeling like you’ll never make it on your own, remember that. Somehow looking into the eyes of your children will give you the strength you so desperately need. It is in their eyes that you will get the fuel you need to start your engine and make the journey. Don’t ask “How?,” because the road will be shown to you. Have confidence in yourself to begin the journey.
Learn everything you can to be a good parent by going to the library and gathering up all the books available on the subject. When you feel down, read a chapter or two. Knowledge gives you power. Attend meetings and classes for divorce recovery. Meet other parents that are experiencing the same thing, as it will help you realize that you are not alone. Local churches and schools should have many resources for you as well.
If you are struggling, or if you see signs that your child is struggling ¯ such as prolonged sadness or failing grades in school ¯ seek professional counseling. There is usually a school social worker in the schools that can help your child through this time at no charge.
And, the very best thing you can do as a parent is be with your child, doing nothing but sitting with them and encouraging them to talk about their thoughts and innermost feelings. The hardest thing to do as parents is to listen. Most parents are used to giving directions and taking the lead, but at a time like this, there is real value in letting your child vent, with out being judged or told that their feelings are wrong.
Keep in mind that sometimes they just need to tell you how they feel, which is about being heard and acknowledged. Positive ways to deal with those feelings can be encouraged through your actions in return. In addition, teaching your child with your actions can help your child regain some control during a time they most likely feel they have no control.
A good example is the child who is upset because they miss their dad. Perhaps dad is not as available to the child as he could be. You can either tell dad, at which time he will probably withdraw and the fighting will begin, or you can encourage the child to call dad when he is missed. Or, maybe color some pictures and send them to dad in order to fill this void. These are positive ways to fill the emptiness, and tools that you can utilize without trying to change the behavior of the other parent. Keep the focus on what you can do, not what the other parent is not doing.If YOU always try to do what is right for your child, when situations arise, you won’t have to look back with regret. Many parents feel that they have to be personally responsible for what kind or parent the other parent is or is not. Just doing the right thing on your part, however, will foster a better (I didn’t say perfect) relationship between the other parent and your child. Beyond that, your energy should be spent on what YOU are doing and let the other parent do their part.
Remember, every parent is different, and do not expect your ex to be just like you. Remember, too, that that may be one of the reasons you are no longer married. So, try to just let them be the best parent they can be and encourage a good relationship. Remember, the absence of the other parent would be more devastating in most cases than whatever faulty parenting skills that parent does bring to the table.
The world is in front of you, and there will be a time when your children are grown and you will wonder how you got so far. By doing what you need to do now, you will be proud of what your children will become tomorrow, and you will be able to sleep at night knowing you did the best that you could.
What your family will become will be determined by the choices you make today. It is up to you.