January 27, 2010

life goes on...

Well, life goes on. 
Kids grow, time heals wounds, court issues come and go…but life goes on…

Now what? What about the questions that will come from our kids about their living situation, bouncing from mom’s to dad’s house. How to deal with the attitude of the teen who is rebellious (because he doesn’t know how to cope better), or how to help our kids overcome the frustrations of the split housing and the lack of stability. You bet that questions will come, and attitude will develop and manipulation will be there.

As I write I don’t know what the future will hold for me and my son, but I am familiar with the process of divorce from a child’s point of view, how painful it is to be in the middle of a fight, and how easy is to manipulate the situation to my advantage - not maliciously, but in a desperate call for attention or to bring the focus to one’s needs.
Growing up, my siblings and I were put in the position to choose our household and the parent with custody, so, after the choice was made, we lived with the guilt of leaving one parent behind, and for a 11, 8,7 and 4 year old kids, this type of guilt is hard to live with.
PLEASE don’t put your kids in that position. Our kids should not be put in the position to choose between parents, or be manipulated to choose between households or activities.

I also understand we do want to be the cool parent. Specially for single mothers, we don’t want to be the ogre who denies the candy for dinner and bed time pass 10pm - we want to bring fulfillment to our kids lives and to ours, we want to hear - “thanks mom, I love you despise the choices made and I will be OK no matter what” - well, we know that is not always truth.
This brings me to my next point - do we really need to treat our kids extra special because of the divorce or split housing? Do we need to supply their every request and overlook some issues in discipline? It is easier to respond “no” than to do it.

My kid is three years old, and he is pulling an attitude. Since he was two he knew my attitude changed when it was about time for him to leave for dad’s house. I gave him candy, toys, promises so he can be more agreeable to the visitation time - nothing helped for too long. 
When he came back, even until now, he does have an attitude (even at this age!) he is more volatile and tests the limits, when he comes back from the weekend visitations is even worse. If this is with a kid that this is house interchange is all he knows, it is specially hard for kids who move from a household with mom and dad in it to a split situation.
But, my advice, as a child growing up in this situation - no special treatment should be given. Those re-assure fears, intensifies the enormous change in the kid’s life and the need for “candy” to make it feel better.

When I was little I cried and cried to the One who I considered my only friend, - God. I did received an answer that satisfied me then (at 11 years old) satisfies me know and will tell my child as he grows.
Mom and Dad are great, but they are also human, and as humans, they make mistakes. Mom and Dad are also children of God and are living their lives, mistakes and all. I will hold you, I will protect you, I will guide you, I will never leave you”
This worked for me, because it was (and is) the truth. My parents are supposed to protect me and be my home and bring me stability as I grow up - but that is not always the case, mistakes happen, hearts get broken in the process, unfortunately - but life goes on.
This truth made me grow ten years in just one day, but that is what happens with children of the unfortunate divorce, they have to grow twice as fast - but GROW is the key word.
I did throw my tantrums, I did try to get my way many, many times, but I do thank my mom’s strong hand and heart and my dad’s compassion.

My mother made me understand that I had to be disciplined regardless of the situation I was in. There was room for sorrow, but life goes on, and I had to keep going with mine, for my sake and the sake of my siblings.

As my child grows, discipline needs to happen. Respect for both parents needs to be enforced, and a great deal of maturity from his part is what is happening.
Please, don’t allow your kids to think that they are in a hopeless situation, that the only way to cope is to satisfy the material needs and to resource to addiction of any kind. Even in this situation, you, as a parent are irreplaceable. Your kids will have friends, but needs you as a parent, the discipline, the stability in the midst of instability. You kid needs you to be the mom they knew, wiser, freer - YOU, mistakes and all. They will focus on your face, and on your smile, they will know that life goes on.

Shortcomings in their lives should not be blamed on the divorce, they should be known for rising above the occasion, and they need you for that.

Love your kids as well though, take your time to listen and to be there. They need your strong and soft hand.

I’m praying for our journey and wish you the best.