by Kate Thrall, Courier & Press, March 10, 2015 –
My mother is a wonderful role model, and I always wanted to be just like her. My hope was to marry the man of my dreams and have a house full of children. I think deep down most of us want to have a happy home with both parents present. However, sometimes it’s not meant to be and families are fractured.
I am now a divorced mom navigating the waters of single parenting. Honestly, divorce is one of the most devastating and damaging things I have ever experienced. Since divorce is a family issue — not just a marriage issue — and children can be deeply affected, I wanted to make sure I was still focused on parenting.
Through my own experience I have discovered a few ways to help children work through this difficult and trying time:
1. Have a positive attitude: Your children are looking to see how you respond. You need to be a strong, positive role model during this time.
2. Discussions with your spouse should not take place in front of the children: Children do not need to hear negative comments about the other parent or the situation.
3. Let your children know how much you love them: They may already be aware, but they need extra reassurance. They also need to know that they do not have to choose a side.
4. Find activities to do together: This will show your children that they are important to you, and they need to know you will always be their parent.
5. Create a good support system for you and your children: This could include friends, family, co-workers, people from church, or neighbors. You and your children need to be surrounded by positive, healthy people. Knowing there are people to help in your time of need will help reduce stress.
6. Try to keep things as normal as possible: If you can, keep children in the same school and attend the same church and activities. Surround them with friends and family.
7. Children often personalize the situation and feel responsible: Let them know the divorce is NOT their fault.
8. Structure is essential for all children, but it is especially important in this situation: Try to implement a schedule and stick to it. It is easier to start with small things. A bedtime routine was important to us. It was a time when my son could talk to me and freely express his emotions.
9. Practice healthy eating and sleeping habits during this time: This may be difficult, but it will make a big difference in how you feel.
For me personally, it took a few months before I truly understood that I was a single parent; I was used to doing everything as a family. After the divorce, I was overwhelmed with adjusting my schedule, providing the only source of income, and being the sole caretaker of our child.
For me each day as a divorced parent gets a little easier. It is still important to laugh and enjoy your children, because they don’t stay young forever. Remember, there is life after divorce.