My divorce story
When my brother and I were young children, our parents split up. They were separated for a year (required by law where we lived), then divorced. My father met someone else during this time and re-married once the divorce was final. A year or so after that, my mother moved my brother and me to another city where she went to graduate school in order to be able to get a higher paying job. This is when my father took my mother to court to try to get custody of us, which, by the way, is a very costly thing to do, both financially and emotionally.
This was a very painful and challenging time for all of us. My mother “won” the custody battle so we continued to live with her, but things were not easy. Communication between my parents was less than ideal and I often felt caught in the middle. Hearing one parent bad-mouth the other parent is terribly upsetting to a child, whether the statement is true or not, and it makes the child wonder if they can trust the parent who’s saying the bad things.
We spent every other weekend at my father’s house, in another city, and it was usually a difficult transition. There were different rules and different expectations, tensions ran high, there was a step-parent and a step-sister at my father’s house, and there were a lot of misunderstandings. Special occasions were some of the hardest things for me. As a child, you want both of your parents to be able to come to ball games you’re playing in, graduation ceremonies, Christmas, your wedding, etc. But the stress of worrying about how they will get along, or how to keep them separated but treated equally, or how to spend time with both of them really takes a lot away from the event itself.
My parents and step-parent have never really gotten to a point where everyone can chat and be friendly to one another, even though it’s been over 30 years. I decided long ago that I would never have this type of situation with my children. I love my parents, but I still wish they could get along.
Ten years ago I got married and had a child of my own, a beautiful daughter. Four years later, I found myself going through a divorce and praying that I could figure out a way to do it differently than all the models I’d ever seen. Fortunately my husband had heard all of the nasty divorce stories that are so common, and he too wanted a different outcome for our daughter.
We chose to put the best interests of our daughter first and foremost, and we made a commitment to work together to give her good role models, even if we weren’t married to each other. My ex husband remarried and now has two young children with his wife. So our “family” has grown. His wife is a child of divorce just like me, so she also knows about what NOT to do and the effects on the kids. She is just as much a part of our parenting and working together as he and I are. I value her opinions and her role in my daughter’s life and she is also very respectful of me and my role. I am incredibly thankful that my daughter has such positive influences in her life and I can’t even count all the ways her life has been made better by our situation and our strong commitment to what we believe in for our kids.
My ex and his wife and I get together often with our combined children, and we get along great. We try to be consistent in our parenting between households and we discuss issues regularly to make sure we’re all on the same page. There’s no pitting one parent against the other by our child because we all know what’s going on at any time and we are a united front. Friends, coworkers and neighbors think we’re “a little weird, but in a good way”, and we’re perfectly okay with that.
We want more parents to know what’s possible and to see how their kids can flourish if given a positive, harmonious environment.
Of course I never wanted to be a divorced, single parent when I imagined my adult life, but I am incredibly grateful for the life I have, for my wonderful daughter, and for all of the great people that play a part in raising her. We are all living happily ever after.
To your new life,