The Don't's for parents who are Divorcing
Children are not pawns!
Now I’m going to talk about something near and dear to my heart, children. They are our future, our hope and should be treated as such, with respect. I’m not saying that we should give the little darlings everything their hearts desire. That would be foolish. What I am referring to is their mental health and well being.
Children are not pawns nor should they be treated as such.
Mom - One terrific lady!
I thank the Good Lord that my mom was a wise woman. She went through a divorce at probably the hardest time anyone could ever do so. It was in the mid 1960’s when there was no welfare, or if there was her little community never heard of it. She was told that if she wanted money she needed to get her ex-husband to pay her. Since he had other plans for his income and she/we weren’t part of it, she had to do her best with what she could.
She had been in a horrific car accident that left her partially crippled. One leg was smashed beyond recognition. The Doctors in that time did their best to make it look like a leg, but it was about 3 inches shorter than the other one. She had to wear a brace to be able to walk. The home she provided for the 3 of us, me, her and my brother was a small shack of sorts. I was very young and remember having a picnic table as out dining room table. It was 1 bedroom. We lived very close to the elementary school so we didn’t need to drive.
She did the best she could with what she had to work with.
There were questions
My brother at the tender age of 7, blamed her for our Dad not being around. He felt it was her fault somehow. I truly don’t remember him. But what I do remember as I grew up, she never once criticized our father to us. Not one time do I ever recall her complaining about him, never calling him names or blaming him for our circumstances.
As we grew up of course we asked questions regarding him and his whereabouts. Her answers to us? “Well, he knows where to find you.” When there were no Birthday cards, Christmas cards etc and the lack of those were questioned she would reply that “I suppose he has other things on his mind.“ Or just plain “I don’t know”.
She left it up to us as children to think of reasons he wasn’t there for Birthday’s, Christmas or any other special occasion. I had a wild imagination, so I came up with really good reasons! He was busy being famous, or he was traveling the world. I’m sure that my brother did the same.
The child's mind can be in turmoil
My Mother remarried and my brother and I were adopted by our new Dad. As we grew up the comments from her still remained the same. When I got old enough she then explained to me the happenings of her marriage and why it ended. Still, she never had bad things to say about him.
Eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I had to find him. I suffered from low self esteem, feelings of abandonment etc. I never blamed myself for their break up, but the lack of communication from him made me feel unworthy of love. If I couldn’t be loved and wanted by my own biological father, then what kind of person must I be?
I had questions
I finally located him and had a discussion with my Mom and Dad, I asked them if they minded if I went to see him. More than anything I didn’t want to hurt the man who raised me and called me Daughter but I just had to know! There were so many questions I had that only 1 person could answer.
I went to visit him, asked my questions. Suffice it to say I was not impressed. That was the last time I ever saw him.
When my own marriage ended I borrowed a page from my Mother’s book of life. I never spoke ill of my son’s father to him. When birthday’s and holiday’s rolled around and the visit’s or presents didn’t happen, the questions came. I answered them the best I could. “He knows where to find you”. “He must be busy” or the ever faithful “I don’t know”.
When my son’s curiosity got the best of him and he located his father, I was nervous. I was afraid that my son was going to find this wonderful man who had changed and things were great. Yes, I’ll admit it, I was afraid I’d lose my son to the man who had ignored him all of his life. He spent dinner and the evening with him they talked. When my son came back from his visit I asked him “Well, what did you think?” His reply? “I was not impressed.” That was 3 years ago, he hasn’t seen him or talked to him since.
I’m sure that my Mom was watching me from above with the biggest smile on her face. She taught me well. My son did us both proud.
What you should NEVER do!
There is never any reason to speak ill of an absent parent. When going through a Divorce a child is NOT a pawn. They should NEVER be used as leverage. You should NEVER use a child to get what you want. A divorce or separation from a parent is going to be hard enough on the child, they are not going to understand why Mommy or Daddy is no longer living with them.
A child should never be held from a parent as punishment because you are angry. It doesn’t matter what the parent has done (with the exception of abuse). A child’s mind is a jumble of things and speaking bad of a parent does nothing but cause confusion. You might be hurt or angry, that’s fine, get a friend in whom to confide. NEVER use your child to confide in. They WILL NOT understand.
They will have enough hurt on their own. If you’ve been hurt they will hurt as it is. You should NEVER add to their misery by calling the parent names! EVER! No matter what, those names should not cross your lips in the presence of your child!
If the spouse remarries, as hard as it is, swallow your pride for the sake of your child and do your absolute best to get along. If your child wants to like the step parent, suck it up! You are the adult here, act like it! Don’t make it harder on your child. The mistakes of the parents are not the fault of the child. Even if you were absolutely perfect and did nothing to deserve being left, divorced, dumped or whatever it is that happened to cause the separation.
Gotta break it down!
Let’s break it down: For the purpose of this exercise we are going to use the absent parent as a man. You call your EX names, such as loser, asshole, jerk, waste of air, Dead-beat, creep, cock sucker, or any other filthy name that you can think of. The next thing you are doing as they grow is say “You are just like your father!!” What has your child just heard? They have heard THEY are a loser, asshole, jerk etc…
Your child will make you proud
It doesn’t matter if the absent parent is the biggest loser the world has ever seen, DO NOT tell this to your child. If you have done YOUR job right, been the absolute BEST parent that you could be, your child will do you proud.
The world has enough problems, don’t add to it by being a bad parent.