How To Deal With Being Away From Your Child After Divorce
Divorce hurts and can be ugly in itself. But what about the children involved? You may divorce your spouse because you no longer get along or have the same goals in life but the worst part is that even though you may be trying to be the responsible adult, your ex may try to use your children against you--to punish you. There are a few things to be prepared for if this sounds like your situation. What I (nor anyone else) cannot prepare you for is the pain and heartache that you will experience in this journey, however, as time goes by, it will get better.
1. Pray. Pray as much as possible and listen/watch for answers. God does not like to see His children suffering no more than we like to see our children suffering. Often times, God does not answer our prayers in the way that we expect but pay attention and you will see unexpected answers along the way that will help.
2. Get physical. Exercise relieves stress, helps you to feel better and look better which will boost your self-esteem.
3. Realize that your children still love you and even if your ex tries to limit your contact with them, it is temporary. If your child wants to see you, one day they will. Not to mention that the courts will not keep a child from their parent (unless there are other serious issues). By the time that your child gets to be a teen, they will decide for themselves no matter what their other parent thinks. By the time that they are an adult, it is all over. No one can control them. The sad part is that the other parent does not even realize that while they may be hurting you, even worse, they are hurting the child. (Remember that you divorced this person for these very things because of how they are).
4. Pray for your ex. You may be thinking "What?!" No, really, pray for them. It helps you to let go and forgive which is very important for your own happiness and peace. If divine intervention is applied to your ex--even better. It is a win-win for you. However, if you do not see a change in your ex despite your prayers, just remember that people who are set out to hurt others are not easily reached, even by God sometimes. Be patient and worry about your child and you being okay.
5. When you do get time with your child, spend quality time with him/her. You don't have to spend a ton of money on them--money does not make memories, YOU do. Take them to the park, watch a family friendly movie together, get down in the floor and play with them. Give them hugs and kisses and show them how much you love them. Also, take lots of pictures and videos of them to have when you wish to see them. You may buy them a gift but just don't get tangled up in supplying gifts so that every time you see your child they want to know what you will buy them this time. This will become unrealistic and costly. Teach your child the value of time spent together and not of things.
6. This one hurts. I know that there will be times that your child will beg to stay with you and not go with the other parent. Do not get angry or say hurtful things about the other parent if they are unreasonable. (Remember, your child loves him/her, too). It only makes it worse on the child. Let your child know when he/she may expect to see you again. Let them know that they can call you and talk to you whenever they want. Ask them to draw you a picture or color a picture for your next visit.
7. Refrain from asking questions specifically about the other parent. When you are with your child, he/she wants you to be actively involved with them. They do not want to be placed in the "middle". Besides, a child will usually offer information on their own in general conversation if you are concerned about the going-ons in their life.
8. Do not withhold buying necessary items, such as clothing and hygiene items, for your child if he/she needs them. Just because you do not feel that the other parent is doing their part in caring for your child does not mean that your child should be punished for it. Again, this should be done within reason. Might your ex be doing these things on purpose? The answer is yes, they may. But who will suffer if you choose not to get your child these necessary items? Your child. Divorce is difficult enough without your child being ridiculed by his/her peers for wearing the same clothes over and over or for being in need of better shoes. All of the things that your child expected of you before the divorce should still be given.
9. Try to set a normal routine for when your child is visiting. Cook meals and allow them to help. Read them a book at bedtime. Give them a bath (if they are small) before bed. Try to spend as much time with them as possible without other people around so that they feel as though they are getting that one-on-one time that they desperately seek and deserve. Sing with them and tuck them into bed at night. Try to continue to do activities with them as you did before the divorce.
10. Be sure that your child still gets dental care and healthcare as needed. In all the stress and issues of a divorce, again, your child may become pushed to the back when they should be foremost and central to everything else. They are your number one priority and they NEED you. Be sure that he/she gets their regular checkups. Also, it may be a good idea to begin therapy with them in order to help them learn how to cope with their feelings and to provide them a healthy outlet for them.
In closing, I feel as though I cannot write enough on this subject because I have undergone these issues and so much more after divorce. You must remember to love yourself (because sometimes you will not), always take the high road when it comes to your child (you must be responsible and mature for their sake), and remember that "This, too, shall pass". It may not be a month from now or even two years from now--but in time, the pain does get better. One last tip, if you don't have someone to confide in, write in a journal. Or get therapy for yourself, too. You will HAVE to get your feelings out. You will have to cry. After the storm, there will always be a rainbow. Good luck and God bless you and your children.