Divorce is about ending your marriage, it’s not about ending your parenting relationship and that’s a message my current guest, Sarah wants anyone facing divorce to hear and understand. Here’s Sarah:
I think divorce is probably better than being stuck however your job is still a parent.
Divorce might happen because people change, because people grow apart, all kinds of situations. I think about Henry VIII, watching The Tudors, you just sit there and go, “Wouldn’t your life have been easier if divorce had just been okay and you could have figured this stuff out?” Maybe he would have only married once, maybe he wouldn’t have had to behead two wives.
I don’t know what it feels like to be divorcing someone, but as a child of two divorced parents, I know that I’m glad they aren’t still together. It would have been bad, and maybe it would have been harder on me because I knew how difficult it was for them to be together.
Their parenting skills were consistent throughout, but they were definitely able to give more to me because they weren’t conflicted with this other person.
My advice to parents going through divorce is, always communicate. Remember that even though the team dynamics have changed, it’s still a team in a lot of ways, and you signed up for this job, a long time ago, so that’s still your job. Your job description hasn’t changed with regards to that. Your circumstances have changed with regards to your relationship with your partner, but this parenting, this job is written down, hasn’t changed.
You still need to be a parent, and ideally, that’s a dual job. Maybe if you’re a single parent, you’ve got it all figured out, and you’ve got that, but if you started out as a duo, as a team, continue that, and try to work around the conflicts that keep you from working as a team with regards to your children.
I always think, “If I were to win an Academy Award, what would my acceptance speech be?” And I get to my parents and I think, “They gave me the best parts of themselves and sent me out into the world.” That’s far and away the best thing I’ve learned as an adult.
It really has allowed me to have this great relationship with both of my parents. My dad has his quarks and his issues, but that’s about my dad, it’s not really about me, and same thing with my mom. My mom and I go to the beach and we travel well together, we enjoy each other’s company and we have a good time. It’s been a long road, but we’ve got to this point where it’s like, “Wow, this meaningful, valuable, wonderful relationship that I have in my life has been such an enriching part of my life.”
The Divorce Coach Says
I love Sarah’s message here that parenting is not a job from which you can resign. It’s a lifetime appointment. I also like to say that parenting is not a part-time position either, even if you only have physical custody some of the time.
It’s encouraging to hear Sarah’s appreciation of her parents because being a parent can often be a thankless task – I think of the times when I have to say no and be the bad guy or when I feel the responsibility falls disproportionately on me. I know right now my role is to be a parent and not a friend but I hope I’m laying the groundwork for the days when we can be friends, like Sarah and her mom are.
This is the last post in Sarah’s series and I appreciate her willingness to share her experience. I hope that reading her perspective as a child of divorce will inspire you to persevere and collaborate with your ex in the interests of parenting with the best interests of your child at heart.
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