Megan has been divorced for six months and separated for about a year previous to that. Her three children are young – eight, five and three. How children cope with a divorce is always a concern, no matter how old they are – Evvy’s children were adults when her divorce caused them to reassess their childhood. Two influencing factors are the amount of change and how the parents handle the change. When children are preschool age and used to being at home with mom all day, the shift to dealing with two homes can be very dramatic. Yet, children are adaptable and sometimes they adapt better than you. Here’s Megan:
My children have adapted beyond well to the divorce. I’ve always been very honest with them about what happened. When my husband left, I said,
“Sometimes mommies and daddies don’t get along and daddy’s going move and live somewhere else.”
All they cared about was “can I have ice cream tonight?” and, “can I stay with you?” It’s always been that way. I have friends whose children ask “why can’t you guys be together?” My children have never asked.
I have so many friends who are divorced who have kids my age. So, we spend a lot of time together, they all have friends who are in the same situation, so that helps. They don’t feel they’re the odd ones out.
My oldest is eight, and a few times he says,
“I like going to John’s house because he knows what it feels like to not have his mom and dad live together.”
John’s mom is one of my best friends. I ask if he’s sad and he says, “No. John just knows what it’s like.”
So, my children have adjusted well, they love who I’m dating, they’re happy. I do wonder how it’s really affecting them because on the surface everything’s great, but I also came from a divorced family.
Although I’m at peace about the divorce, I do feel I lost my kids. I’d been at home with them full-time for four years. Luckily for me, my ex really didn’t see the kids for the first four months he was gone. He would maybe come see them once a week for a couple hours and that was it, so I really had a slow adjustment. When we separated, my youngest was two and she was still nursing full time. I lost a nursing, happy baby and I lost my kids that I had every day, and I was at the school volunteering every day.
Now they go with him Wednesday nights, which is okay. By then I’m very tired and I’m okay by myself, but then it’s every other weekend from Friday night to Monday morning. We have 60-40 custody, so he gets three weeks in the summer which he didn’t really want, but he took it because in the state of Florida, he pays me less money. He was going to fight for 50-50, which was even less child support, so for him it was all about the money, it wasn’t about the kids.
He’ll ask me if I can keep the kids and tell me he can’t afford a sitter and of course, I take them but he still wants to take them overnight because that counts as his overnight.
I never thought I’d be without my kids, and that’s probably the hardest because they are so young.
The Divorce Coach Says
Kudos to Megan for not letting her loss impact her children. Kiesa Kay was another lady who felt that shared custody meant losing her children after her divorce. I would imagine this is particularly hard for stay-at-home moms with very young children. And of course, what mom says no to being with her kids when she can, especially if she’s missing them?
My parenting agreement has a provision that if either of us has a conflict with our parenting time, then we have to call the other parent first before arranging a babysitter. My kids were older so they were able to stay on their own but sometimes they didn’t want to stay at their dad’s house on their own. I never wanted them to feel that they could only see me at certain times or be at my house at certain times – I wanted them to know this was their home and they could always come here. So if their dad had a commitment, they knew they could here if they wanted.
Colorado has similar child support rules as Florida in that overnights are figured into the calculation of child support. I get that there has to be some way of apportioning the child support between parents but as Megan points out, this creates a financially motivated incentive rather than what is in the best interest of the children. Julia also talked about this when she was negotiating parenting time. Would love to hear your thoughts on how well child support works in your state and if there are better ways to calculate it, removing the financial incentive from the parenting time equation.
Megan referenced being a child of divorce … her thoughts on that and why she’s smart to keep an eye on her kids coming next ….