My Divorce and My Children

Posted January 23, 2015 by

Divorce is something that happens between two adults, not unlike marriage.  It is the formal dissolution of a relationship that, for whatever reason, did not work out.  It is not, however, permission to talk negatively about your children’s other parent or their families, as the case may be.

The death of a child puts enormous strain on a marriage; when our teenage daughter passed away in 2004, it was the final blow to my and my husband’s tenuous relationship.  We had been together for about twenty-four years at that point and, like most relationships, we had weathered a few storms.  The details of those storms were only for us to know, not our children.  It was not their fault that the relationship was ending; it was a series of circumstances.

When we decided the relationship was done, I had no idea how to talk to my teens: what to say, what not to say.  So, initially, I said nothing.  The boys were 13 and 15, and our family was dysfunctional.  As for me, I was attempting to recover from my accident injuries and the death of our child.  Overall, it was not a great place to be.

I knew that at some point I would have to have the conversation with my sons about what happened and why, after all those years, we divorced.  So I began to research and read everything I could get my hands on. Then, when the questions came, I was ready.  I knew that they did not need details; those would remain private.  I told them the truth: we fell out of love with each other, but truly loved both of them.

I firmly believe that it is part of my job as a mother to be a positive role model for my boys while allowing them to form their own opinion of others.  I have never told my sons mean-spirited things about my ex-husband or his family. After all, these are still people in their lives. So I continue to speak positively, and if I have nothing nice to say, I remain silent.

One of the most important conversations I have had with my boys was when I told them that I do not hate their father.  He gave me the two of them, along with some amazing memories from our marriage. For that, I will always be grateful.  It is important for my sons to know that they do not have to choose a parent to align with; this is not a war, it is life.

One thing I wish I had done better was to help them navigate the new relationship between me and their dad after the divorce.  Instead, they tried to create the relationship on their own.  It was only years later that I realized that they did not have the skills to do this.  So after years of no contact with my ex, I tapped out a text message to him and talked to him about his sons.  The look of surprise on both my boys’ faces made it all worthwhile. They knew then that I would support their relationship with their father — and that I would do anything I could to strengthen it.

Even though my sons are both in their twenties now, they know I am always available to offer guidance in any situation (even if it involves their dad), and that is a great feeling!

About

Sandra Steiner is a published Inspirational author, blogger and grandparent. Sandra writes to encourage and inspire those around her to live life to its fullest. She lives on beautiful Vancouver Island in Victoria, BC with her husband and fur babies.

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  1. DrearyDave Report

    I also am in the disentanglement stage of a divorce after 19 years of marriage. While it’s not our only reason for parting, it has been a major stressor on our relationship that we have differed in our parenting styles, and were not able to effectively negotiate a middle ground from which to consistently raise our three girls. I’ve come off as a bit of an ogre for seeing a need for rules, and my partner doesn’t see the value in having any, so the discord between us and the inconsistency which the kids have had to endure was inevitable. The hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life has been to realize that I have to remove myself from this day to day situation, but not altogether. I owe it to my kids to stay involved in their lives because I love them unconditionally, and because I want them to realize at some point that I never gave up on them, even though my mate prefers a different approach to discipline. My sadness stems from my departing spouse’s statement that she sees my continued involvement in my children’s lives as important, but she doesn’t see that she has a role in fostering that. As I’m seen as the heavy in the picture and the kids defer to my spouse as the path of least resistance, I really wish that my wife would be as proactive as you have been in speaking of the importance of this relationship between father and daughters, beyond the dissolution of the marriage. I’m afraid that the marital discord anger and frustration borne by my spouse is being unwittingly imprinted upon my children, causing them to see me as largely negative and disposable. I’m mostly afraid that this will lay the foundation for how they will relate to male figures in their personal lives in the future. Without the active participation of my spouse, all I can do is be insistent, tell them I love them over and over again…be there when they have activities, congratulate them on their triumphs, attempt to talk with them when I see that there’s an issue, but above all not fault them for their withdrawn behavior. It’s not their fault that their parents couldn’t get it together.

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