The unthinkable has happened. You are divorced and are faced with figuring out how to make it on your own. The questions feel endless. Where will I live? Will I be able to find a job? And the most challenging question of all, how will my children cope? While you may feel a certain relief to have moved on in your life, and perhaps are feeling a spark of hope about the future, trust me your children are feeling anything but relief, and certainly not hope. Even if one of the parents is a “difficult” person, the child will rarely be glad to go through a divorce. In fact, the children often blame themselves for the split! If you don’t believe me, listen to this. The other day my child asked me in all innocence, why there is a van sitting in Mission Valley which advertises a “Speedy Divorce.” He said, with a note of frustration, “Why would anyone want a speedy divorce?” What he was really questioning, is why anyone would want a divorce at all, let alone a fast one.
I can’t overstate the importance of co-parenting after a divorce. Nothing will help your child weather the storm of a divorce better than having two strong parents guiding them along the way. For every question you have about your own situation, they probably have three. Good communication between the parents, despite potential mountains of animosity, will be the best recipe for the new situation. Think of it as being as stressful as moving, in fact the divorce might result in an actual move. Parents need to come up with a plan together based on the custody agreement, in a time when probably neither partner wants to see the other again. Focus on the children – they didn’t choose to get married or give birth, nor did they want this divorce. They need you more than ever. Consistency is more crucial now than it ever was in the past.
I think one way to approach it is as if this person is now a co-worker and your job is to raise the children together. Naturally, it is a more emotionally fraught situation than a work environment, but embrace that same spirit of finding a way to work together to achieve a project goal. I think we can all admit that we have people we work with that we would rather not – but we have to find a way to work together to be successful. Maturity is key, and just as you might want your child to admire your employment success, think about also setting example at home as a parent who is able to interact with the other parent in a healthy way.
Finding this all a little too easy to believe? Sound too simplistic? We here at San Diego Family Mediation Center are specialists in helping families find ways to overcome bitterness through mediation. Our years of experience have given us insight into the best possible alternatives for changing poor communication patterns into positive ones. Let us bring a new energy and direction to your relationship as you face the future, whether it’s together or apart.