Hi everyone! I’m Meredith from the blog, The Cookie ChRUNicles. Some of you may already follow my adventures of running through life as a single mom. Since the focus of my blog is more geared towards health, fitness and raising my son, I never get into the details of my divorce or any of the emotions surrounding it. About The Children, LLC was kind enough to let me do a guest post so that I could provide you with insight into how I have successfully handled my divorce emotions around my son.
So why should you listen to what I have to say? Well, I like to think I am an expert in this area. While I am certainly not a social worker, marriage counselor or psychologist, I AM a woman, a mother and a former wife who lived through marriage crumbling hell for three years prior to entering into a three and a half year divorce process. All while raising my son.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you of my “expert” status, I recently appeared on the Dr. Oz show to discuss my “healthy revenge and healthy lifestyle following divorce”. Basically, I was asked to appear on the show to speak of my coping tactics and healthy attitude during and after divorce.
Have I got your attention yet? Good. Let’s get started, shall we?
Divorce creates an environment completely out of our control. The only thing we DO have control over is how we handle ourselves. And most importantly, how we handle ourselves around our children. As affected as we adults are by the divorce process, it is the children we need to think of and protect the most to minimize the side effects of divorce.
Recently, my 9 year old son came home from school very upset. Why was he upset? It seems a girl in his class was crying because he did not want to “date” her. I explained to him that he shouldn’t worry, she would be OK and that girls can be dramatic and cry pretty easily.
He turned to me and said, “But mom, you don’t cry. You have never cried.”
In that moment, I wanted to cry.
I wanted to cry tears of happiness that this little boy was so completely oblivious to all I had gone through during the years that my marriage to his daddy were crumbling and I was desperately trying to save it.
I wanted to cry tears of joy for how truly unaware he is of the chaos that was my life as I brought him to and from preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, play-dates and extra-curricular activities.
I wanted to cry tears of complete bewilderment that this little boy is clueless when it comes to the lengthy (and I mean lengthy) details surrounding his parents’ divorce.
How wrong my little boy is thinking his mommy has never cried. His mommy cried plenty over the last several years. So much so that it is a wonder my eyes didn’t decide to leave me too.
I did not know from divorce until it happened to me. It was uncharted territory and not a place I ever expected to be. But I knew from day one that no matter what, I wanted my child to be as minimally affected as possible.
Is it easy? No. I can’t sit here and say that it is so simple to hide those emotions all of the time, especially when you are a single parent playing the role of mom, dad, cook, housekeeper, taxi driver, playmate and tutor all at once.
You don’t really get much time to yourself that often.
But, you figure it out. You make it work.
YOU HAVE TO. Divorce emotions don’t magically end when the legal process is over..
It is an ongoing battle and recovery. Something will forever pop up. Especially when co-parenting. Hate to break it to you. It doesn’t all end when the ink is dried.
So, having burst your divorce hell-ends-when-the-court-process-ends bubble, it is best you get a hold on yourself as quickly as possible so that you are equipped to deal with your emotions and keep the negativity away from your children going forward.
And how you wonder do you go about getting a grip on your emotions and staying positive in front of your kids?
You are in luck people. Every week I offer my readers three tips, usually on “Three Tip Tuesday”.
So let’s pretend today is Tuesday, yes?
The Cookie ChRUNicles 3 Tips for How To Limit the Negativity around your Kids:
Tip #1 – You don’t take divorce-related phone calls in front of your children. This includes calls from your lawyer or any call that leads you to bashing your spouse or discussing details of your divorce and pending volatile situation.
If you must take a call from the lawyer, explain to your lawyer ahead of time that if your kids are in the room, you are going to abbreviate what you are saying so that they are unaware of who it is you are speaking with.
Any time it was absolutely necessary for me to take a divorce related phone call, I did my best to cover the conversation. If my son asked who I was speaking to (or arguing with) I simply said the insurance company or even those pesky telemarketers.
I already feel bad for the cold callers and the insurance company my son deals with in the future.
I am positive he will hold some form of resentment for them.
Well, better the resentment is geared towards Allstate or Geico than towards his father, right? I thought so too.
Tip #2 – If you feel the need to let out some tears, save it for the shower. Your kids do not need to see you cry. They are also not your sounding board, not the people you turn to when you need to vent.
So when you feel the need to cry and your kids are around please go in the bathroom, turn on the water, and either get in the shower (or pretend to) and cry your little heart out.
Think about it – would you have wanted to witness your parents crying? Exactly.
Tip #3 – You married your ex-spouse for a reason.
At some point, you loved them enough to say “I DO”.
Keep that in mind when you speak to your children.
Tell your kids all about those happy moments you had with their mom or dad.
If you must, think of it like this – the person you married no longer exists. You are reliving those great moments you had with a person that is no longer around.
And who better to relive those happy moments with than with your children?
At the end of the day, kids take direction from their parents.
If you are OK, your kids think it is OK to be OK, OK?
Seriously, fake it till you make it.
Tell your kids things are going to be Fine! Great! Wonderful! Peachy! You will love moving to our new home! You will love switching schools! Packing is going to be fun! You will see!
Even if you don’t feel it, even if you don’t believe it, just say it to them.
This is the stuff they need to hear, not the negative stuff that should be saved for the shower.
I may be a veteran in this process all at the ripe age of 34, but trust me, I repeat these same tips to myself quite often.
And, when I am feeling especially negative, I remind myself of one very important fact:
If I don’t try my darnedest each day to raise my son to the best of my ability, he could end up extremely screwed up and a guest on a Jerry Springer-like show. Rather than The Dr. Oz Show like his mommy.
Thank you very much to Meredith from ATC! We hope you all enjoyed reading this guest post and found it fun and informative. Be sure to visit Meredith’s blog The Cookie ChRUNicles!