Being strong and having the right attitude towards divorce is not always easy, but it will make a world of difference for your children. Children tend to have a lot of fears that they may not express when their parents' divorce. Talking about the surface issues can help alleviate some of their deeper fears, especially if you approach things in a calm and controlled manner. Below you will find an excerpt from "Children Are Not Asked to be Born" that gives some tips on how to approach some of the tougher aspects of divorce with the right mindset.
So one night we sat down with our daughter and explained to her that Daddy was moving out. The woman who my daughter got to know through secret rendezvous with her father was the cause of her dad leaving.
Question: How do you explain to your daughter that her dad has chosen the woman at work over her?
Answer: YOU DON’T
Advice: You don’t make a child try to understand a relationship that does not make sense to her or have her try to understand an adult situation in which she is incapable of comprehending. We decided to tell her that daddy wanted to move to be closer to work. We did not want her to think she had done anything wrong.
Over the next few weeks I was scared. I lost twenty five pounds in three weeks. I wasn’t prepared for this. I need to go back to work. I have to tell my daughter that all the promises I made to stay home and take care of her were gone. No brother or sister, and, yes, back you go to the babysitter. Yikes! How do I look at this little face and tell her all of these things?
I thought, “I can’t move.” We just bought this house. How can I afford the house payment? She is going to school in two months? How do I handle work, getting her to school, getting her after school? Man, it was all crashing down on me.
I then thought of what my mother said to me: “children are not asked to be born”.
I decided, wait a minute. I need to be strong here. My daughter’s world is crumbling down. Mine is too, but I am an adult and can deal with whatever comes my way. I said to myself, “okay, I’m good.” I’m strong and I need to be strong for her. She is a little girl whose whole life is going to change. I need to be the person that shows her that it is all going to be okay. I need her to know that we will be just fine together.
I decided to find out what my options would be from that point forward. I had to be strong and needed to do this for my daughter. I also needed to do this for me because if I fail or falter, we both lose.
Question: What would you do to support you and your daughter going forward while trying to maintain a lifestyle that would be acceptable for the two of you?
Answer: From a financial perspective I had several choices. Go back to work and receive child support, or try to live off of child support and spousal support that I could receive from my soon to be ex since I was no longer employed.
Advice: I didn’t really think about the money aspect as much as the question, “How will my daughter see this?” Do I want her to see me living off of her father, using spousal support and child support; or do I want her to see that you can take care of yourself when you need to support yourself.
I wanted my daughter to know that when you are presented with a problem, there are a few sacrifices that have to be made, but, we make them for each other to have a quality life. This is where I had to think of what she would see, more than what I would want to do. The easy way out isn’t always the right thing to do. Sure, we could have lived off of spousal and child support, but in the big picture I wanted my daughter to know that making your own way is more important than living off of others.
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Excerpt from "Children Are Not Asked to be Born" by Mary Kempski. May not be copied or redistributed.
After her divorce, Mary raised her daughter by herself while working in a high tech career. She felt compelled to share her experiences and the lessons she learned as a single mother to help to other moms facing the challenging journey of single parenthood. In the book, she also shares the advice and wisdom from children who lived through their parents' divorce to help you put your children's feelings and reactions into perspective.
Being strong doesn't mean that you have all the answer to their questions. You can get more tips on explaining divorce to children below: