Children of Divorce
Children of divorce. Wow -that’s such a hard statement to even type, but the truth is– it’s just a reality for my two daughters (who I had with my first husband). Never in my wildest, darkest dreams did I ever imagine I would birth two beautiful girls and then find myself in a failed marriage. I wasn’t “raised that way” as they say, and I certainly didn’t think it was going to happen to me. But then it did. Things happen.
In the early days, I battled this heart-crushing reality daily: my kids would have divorced parents. Then, as with most things in life, some “new normal” formed and I came to terms with what my children would deal with in their new lives: two households, two sets of parents, and a slightly complicated schedule.
Resilient, Happy Souls
A few years later, I got remarried and found a new family structure and a new routine. My kids flexed and adjusted and, thankfully, rolled right along with it. The beautiful thing about the hearts and minds of children is that they are so unbelievably resilient and have naturally happy souls.
My girls dealt with three home moves in three years and never batted an eye as long as their toys came along and they felt safe when they arrived. They settled into their new home amazingly well (with my current husband and step-son) and were pretty pleased along the way. I know as adults we feel so much heartache and anxiety over change, but it’s just simply not that way for most children, at least not mine.
I learned a few things along the way in my single mom/divorcee time warp. And now that I am newly married, I have learned a few things about parenting and guiding my children through life change.
Foremost, communication is key. I always took the time to explain to my children what was happening next, when it would happen, and what it would mean for them. I allowed questions all along the way and answered them as best as I could when they came up.
I maintained a happy and positive demeanor in front of them at all time and in any way that I could. Moments of sadness, frustration, and hurt I kept mostly hidden from them and celebrated the small bits of joy in our day every single way that I could. I strived to find the silver lining to our situation and to the changes that were ongoing for a little while.
Keep it Simple (and age-appropriate)
Some topics are just not for children. When I received questions that weren’t appropriate to answer, I resorted to the need-to-know-basis rule. I couldn’t find the words for my then five-year-old, so I used this response: As you know, some tv shows and movies are for adults only. And some topics of conversation are also just for adults. This is one of them and I can’t give you answers, I can only tell you that it’s going to be okay and that you are very loved.”
Adults talk is for adults only. The ugly truth is that most people going through a divorce will have frequent sources of conflict, especially at first. Communicating with an ex-spouse is a whole other topic for another time, but I can say that my children were never exposed to the conflicts that were going on behind the scenes. All of the life transition is enough for their tiny hearts, and kids should never be present or involved with adult discussions like custody, schedules, or disputes.
Discovering What Matters
In summary, my children are amazing, resilient creatures. And as long as they are loved and encouraged and talked to, they will continue to find their peace in a two-home world. We try to celebrate the silver linings for them (more vacations, more people to love you, and Christmas gifts!) and remind them that they are really blessed to have nice homes and fun toys and a safe place to live. They are happy and confident and love being at both of their homes, which is all that I can hope for them. I love my kids more than anything in the world, and their dad does too. Really, that’s all that matters.