Children of divorce are desperately in need of parents who are working together for the good of the children. Sometimes, divorced parents put their own feelings before the needs of their children. If you're a parent who is divorced, you need to wake up and realize how your actions are affecting your children.
A young college student, who has younger siblings, shared her heartache with us recently. She said, “I have come to accept my mother and father’s divorce. It’s been hard for all us kids, but I want my parents to be happy. They each have remarried and seem to love their new spouses, and I hope the best for them. There is only one thing I ask of them, and I expressed it to my mother in a recent phone call where I said, ‘All I want from you and Dad is for you to get along with each other for our sakes. Be nice and kind to each other. Work together for our best good. Stop being selfish and unforgiving.’”
Her mother’s response was, “Hmmmp. We’ll see.” She felt her deepest desire had fallen on deaf ears. It was heartbreaking to her. She looked at us and said, “Why can’t they get along for our sakes?”
Why Can't You Get Along?
That’s our question: why can't you divorced parents get along for your kids' sakes? Or perhaps a better question is, why won’t you? Here are a few answers to this question:
You refuse to accept apologies from your former spouse and be forgiving.
You need to prove that the divorce was not your fault, that blame lies with your former spouse.
You somehow feel a need to tell your children unkind things about your former that they do not need to know.
You say things that make them feel like they have to choose between their father or their mother. They are confused because they love you both.
Waking Up to Change
Do you find yourself relating to any of those responses? If so, here’s the remedy to the above answers.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes
You would want your parents to be examples of being forgiving. You would want them to see that apologies and forgiveness can work. Nothing good comes from harboring unforgiving thoughts. These thoughts will almost always manifest themselves in destructive ways upon your children as they see angry responses from you to your former spouse, the father or mother they love. Let them see you forgiving each other and moving on to a better, more kind and loving life. Not only will they be happier but so will you.
There is no reason to continually try to put your ex-spouse as the bad guy who owns all the fault. Fault rarely lies with just one spouse. So stop casting blame. It’s like digging a hole deeper and deeper that you will one day fall into, and it won’t be a pleasant landing.
There is no good outcome when you tell your children bad things about your ex
Remember and notice every good thing about that person and tell your children. At the very least, do not tell them things they do not need to know. Don’t dredge up past bad deeds. It will avail you nothing and eventually, as your children mature, they will lose respect for you and will be more drawn to their other parent. Children are forgiving and able to move on. You should be, too.
Children should never feel like they have to choose between a mother or a father
Both parents need to reach out to their children and include them in their lives. They need to see parents being willing and cooperative in sharing time with the children. It may not be easy, but it can happen.
We plead with all divorced parents to carefully consider these suggestions for the well-being of your children. If you will do this, it will have a lasting effect for good on them. And your own lives will be better for it, as well. Your children will love you all the more for it.