My daughter just turned 5 and she has a project at preschool where they need a family photo. I am sure for most families this is no big deal, but not all families look the same.
In our instance this required me to text my ex husband to say “Hey, we need a family photo. Come on over and wear something appropriate.” His response was, “Ok, thanks for letting me know.” To many divorced couples this seems absurd, but I must remind you that the assignment was not for MY family photo, it was for the family photo of my daughter. This is her family, she has a Mommy and Daddy who both love her dearly, she has a sister who she gets along with very well... most of the time.
Regardless of how I feel about my ex husband, he is and always will be my daughters father. He will also be the grandfather to my grandchildren, so he certainly isn’t going anywhere. I could fight with him constantly and refuse to be in the same room with him, but why? Why would I want to carry that hatred with me forever, and why would I want to put that hatred into my children’s lives?
We got divorced. I was hurt and let down, as I am sure he was too. But why continue the cycle of hurt and let down into our daughters lives, why not let it stop with us?
I see more and more divorced couple’s co-parenting well together, but unfortunately I also still see the never ending battles as well.
Maybe my ex and I look at things differently as we both are the product of a “broken home,” so we were given the perfect example of what NOT to do. We can see it from the child’s perspective. I am 39 years old and I still cannot have a “family” holiday. To this day as a mother of two I am forced to choose between my parents! This is ridiculous! Let me also tell you, it is not both my parents that make me choose. One is certainly not looking forward to a holiday with the ex, but tells me whatever makes me and the grandkids happy and asks if their will be plenty of booze. The other... nope, not happening, I must make a choice. Well, let me tell all of you divorced parents out there who I choose, the one who doesn’t make me feel guilty for loving both my parents, the one who doesn’t make me choose, that is who I pick.
See, from the child’s perspective when you fight with your ex you make us feel bad, or disloyal for loving our father when we are with our mother, then we feel disloyal for loving our mother when we are with our father. It is a constant inner turmoil, and we then fall into the dreadful people pleasing trait that can cause us issues into our adult lives if we don’t correct it.
Trust me it is not always easy. My ex has a way of pushing my buttons, sometimes with a sledge hammer. But when I feel the urge to yell at him, or kick him in the junk, I take a deep breathe and reframe. I go to a place of gratitude. I am grateful that after this event I get to go home, WITHOUT him! I am grateful he is my ex, and we are no longer in a dead and unhappy marriage. I am grateful he pays his child support, on time and in full. I am grateful when he picks up the kids, as I certainly enjoy the parenting break. And above all I am grateful for OUR kids, because yes, those small people that light up my world are ours, not just mine.
So I beg of you, if you are one of those split and squandering parents try, just try to get along. Remember it takes time, you didn’t get into this ugly mess overnight, and you won’t get out of it overnight either. Try to get along and do what’s best for your children. If it fails miserably, then try again, and again, and again. Keep trying, be consistent and keep your kids best interest in mind, not your ego. The objective is not to be right, or change the other person, the objective is to raise happy kids who feel loved by both parents.
So today, this is what our divorced family photo looks like. I have no idea what the future may hold or how it may evolve over time. Maybe step parents or stepbrothers and sisters will be added. Maybe for others half siblings maybe added. Possibly it may stay the same with the only change being the kids getting older, and my ex aging terribly, as we all know I will remain timeless and youthful.
So the next time you ask your children to choose or fight with your ex, please stop, read this again and take a different perspective. This is not about you, it’s about your children, so swallow your pride and tell your ego to take a hike for an afternoon, because the joy and love your kids will receive from that one afternoon with both parents getting along will last them their lifetime.
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