Recently I spoke with a woman whose coaching practice revolves around the issue of children and divorce. She had many useful strategies for dealing with this challenge but what it all seemed to come down to is this: if you love your children more than you might hate, resent or simply dislike your ex, then you are called upon to act with their well-being first and foremost instead of any hard feelings you may harbor against your former spouse. You must be a bigger person that the issues surrounding your divorce.
This brought to mind a line from a song by the artist Sting from the 80ís when we were still immersed in the cold war. Sting brings the song to an end with the following stanza:
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too
We are our childrenís role models. How we handle this divorce will have the greatest impact on their future. When your children are grown, how will they look back on how you and your ex chose to handle this situation? Will they be proud of you? Will they thank you for placing their welfare above all else? Will they learn the all important life lessons of compassion, mutual respect, acceptance and letting go of grudges and hurt? You truly need to consider these questions now.
If your ex loves your children then work from that premise. We cannot control our former partnerís every action or their thought processes. Perhaps the support check doesnít come on time. Perhaps your ex doesnít show up to pickup the kids on a timely basis. If we can acknowledge the fact that our ex does indeed love the children and treats them accordingly, we will be able to let go of all the little stuff.
If we are divorced with children, we will be in some sort of a relationship with our exís forever. To that end, we must do whatever we can to create a relationship that will nurture and support our children. We must learn to let go of grudges that get in the way of co-parenting. A toxic relationship leaks all over the place. Our children are incredibly perceptive. They know what is going on between the two of you even if you do your best to hide it.
What happens if your ex doesnít see it that way? What if he or she cannot let go of blame and resentment and anger? What do you do if you have done everything you know how to create a mutually respectful relationship and your ex still is extremely difficult and confrontational? In the end you cannot control someone else but you can control yourself. Be the bigger person. Show your children how to do the right thing. Accept the fact that your ex is who they are and figure out the most effective ways to deal with that fact. Let me give you an example. For years I railed against my ex because he could never be on time to pick up the kids on his one weekday night with them. Our agreement said he should pick them up by 7pm at the latest so I made plans for myself based on that agreement. Never happened and I now understand that it probably never will. Sometimes he is on time but usually not. I tried to control the situation but all it did was make me angry and frustrated. Worse still, my daughter revealed that she felt like a burden because I was always complaining about not being able to adhere to my night outís schedule.
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