This is for all the moms and dads out there who are carrying the heavyweight of GUILT – guilt for a divorce they never imagined would happen. I used to carry that heavy sack of burdens also, but then I came to realize a few things that have helped me.
I know that I made my share of mistakes. I can remember being completely self-absorbed in the early days of divorce, unable to be fully present with my kids. I felt underwater by the grief and overwhelmed by the divorce process. I had brain fog, and I had to make decisions that would affect the rest of my life.
Life didn’t stop just because my marriage had ended. Carpool still had to be done, and the kids had to be delivered to afternoon gymnastics and birthday parties. When I think back on that time, I feel bad for the mother that I was to my children. At the same time, I believe that we cannot shield our kids from pain.
No one ever goes into a marriage thinking divorce is a possibility, but unfortunately, it happens to about half of us. The guilt stems from putting the kids through the breakup of the family unit.
Like many of you, there were many days spent thinking about how the divorce was destroying my kids.
Over time, I learned that the kids are OK. As much as the divorce is your story, it’s your kids’ story as well. I want to challenge you to see your children’s divorce experience through a different lens.
We can all agree that everyone goes through pain in life. Suffering never discriminates, it’s the equalizer among us humans. Everyone will experience an unthinkable event, and sometimes more than once. Divorce just happens to be an unthinkable event that happened to you AND your children.
What if I told you, this is exactly the way your story was supposed to unfold?
And it has been uniquely designed just for you and just for your child? Rather than looking at life as a haphazard string of events, view it as a recipe made of many ingredients that make up who you are, but each ingredient cannot stand on its own. It takes the combination of all the ingredients, the sweet and the sour, to create the masterpiece.
Each child has a unique recipe that she can use to become the best version of herself. It’s not an easy concept to wrap your head around because it’s believing in something that you cannot see right now. It’s trusting the process.
I have already seen glimpses of how divorce has shaped my teenagers. They have intense compassion for schoolmates that are going through hard times. They’re aware of the sadness and the signs of unrest because they have lived through it themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish divorce on any family, but if it’s a part of your child’s story and if you remain stuck in regret and guilt, then you are showing up as a substandard parent, or a lesser version of yourself. This is a part of your child’s journey. Note that when you are in the middle of a crisis, you are blind to see the meaning behind the chaos.
Back in 1991, I was a child of divorce. Fast-forward twenty years later, and I found myself going through a similar divorce just like my parents. In the throes of pain, I could not understand how anything good could come out of this turmoil, but now as I look back, I can see how my experience shaped me into exactly the person I was meant to be.
Many may balk at this concept, and call it pollyanna in nature, but you have a choice to either resist the journey or learn from it. I chose to learn from it and view it as a life lesson for my kids. Opportunity can come out of adversity, but you must look for it, and have the eyes to see it. Who knows what my daughters will become as a result of their story. I’ll tell you this, I am not wringing my hands fearful of what the future holds for them; instead, I am confident they will be fine, better than fine, they will be extraordinary!
There are ways to teach your kids to be OK with the trials of life. Start with these
3 Beliefs to Adopt
- You are the only you that will ever be. There is no other “YOU” out there. You are a unique soul, how cool is that?!
- Command your thoughts. Change begins with our thoughts because thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become your reality. Be mindful of the words that follow “I AM”. If you are using self-defeating language such as, I am fat, I am poor, I am unworthy, you are validating these beliefs and creating this reality.
- What you resist persists. You have a choice to resist the pain in your story or embrace it. Your “Unthinkable” is not what happened to you, but your “Unthinkable” is what you do with your story. When you fully embrace this idea, your story no longer has power over you, instead, you can become empowered by your story.
Moms and Dads, these are difficult concepts to adopt for a child, it requires that you embrace them too. Lead by example. The kids will look to you to see how to react. If you are OK, the kids are OK.
Published with permission from Divorce Coach, India Kern (www.indiakern.com)
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