By Katherine Pollock
Divorce is tough, no doubt about it. It is emotional, it is draining, it is sad, it is humbling. Add to that the incredibly important task of navigating that process while raising children, and you have your hands full. Now add your job, your extended family, your home, your finances, your day to day activities and responsibilities, and you can become completely overwhelmed. Even under the best of circumstances, the transition from married to divorced with children can be complicated. But really, there is GOOD news. Divorce and post-divorce may not be easy, but it can be successful. What?! A successful divorce? Is there such a thing? The answer is YES, and really it MUST be successful for the sake of your kids. In fact, research tells us that the number one predictor of a child’s adjustment to divorce is the level of conflict between his or her parents. Not age, gender, birth order, socioeconomic status, IQ, or any other factor, but the level of conflict between his or her parents. Little or no conflict equals a happy kiddo; lots of conflict equals a stressed-out kiddo. That one dynamic can make or break a child’s emotional well-being. That’s heavy, right? But it is the truth. And it’s up to you.
YOU and YOU ALONE have the power to set the stage for either a positive or negative post-divorce environment for your child. But, NO! you say. My ex-husband or ex-wife is equally responsible!! If he or she just changed how they parented or acted more maturely or made different decisions, or stepped up to the plate, or became a better, more caring person, this whole situation would improve. “I’m not the one who needs to change!” you say.
You are right…your ex IS equally responsible. But guess what? Your ex isn't reading this. You are. Have you ever heard the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results. If you keep expecting someone else to change, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you work on controlling the things you can control and keeping the focus on your behaviors and actions and making those behaviors and actions positive, a magical thing happens. More than likely, some of the things you had become so frustrated by in the other parent start to lessen and improve, for several reasons. #1 – The other parent takes your cue, maybe without even realizing it, and responds positively to your positive behaviors and words. In other words, you lead by example. And he or she follows. #2 – By staying more focused on yourself and what you can control, including bettering yourself and investing yourself in a rich and full relationship with your children, you won’t fret as much over what the other person is or is not doing.
Think on it. How do you want your children to be living 20 years from now? The answer to that question will tell you how you need to be behaving at this very moment. If you want your children to be healthy, well-adjusted, confident, happy people, you have to make good choices as a parent now. You have to demonstrate the behaviors you want them to have as adults, and how you interact with your child’s other parent is the most important way you can do that. So start setting the right example….today. Check out these Divorce Rules which we have posted on our website to get a jump start. (Click here). Contact us at 482-3020 to sign up for our Co-Parenting and Divorce class, or to get more information about how you can be a good co-parent.
Cooperative Parenting & Divorce: A parent’s guide to effective co-parenting (Boyan and Termini)
and www.uptoparents.org (Charlie and Barb Asher).