As a newly divorced father (it’s been about 5 months since it was finalized), I entered into this new phase determined to stay positive. I continue to believe that in the end this will all land us in a better place. I take the occasional, “why can’t you and mom still live together,” with stride as I can already see the kids adjusting to this new reality. It’s a struggle for all of us from time to time and as much as I believe it’s important that they see both my ex-wife and I with our game faces on, I also believe it’s good for them to see that we struggle some as well.
I don’t have a good answer for them when they ask why we got divorced and I think they deserve more than “you’ll understand when you’re older.” I’m older … and I don’t understand. So I try to be as honest as I can without getting into phrases like ‘anger management,’ ‘intimacy issues’ and ‘what I learned in counseling.’ Kids are more aware than I think we give them credit for and I’m pretty confident they understand more than we realize. They just need reassurance that it’s all going to be o.k.
When you’re seven the world revolves around you. So I think the key is letting them know that the world will continue to revolve. At the same time the rules that applied in the house when we were married still apply. It took about a week before I came to terms with the fact that “I wish mommy were here” when I send them to their room for mouthing off is equally substituted with “I wish daddy were here” when it happens at their mom’s. They know what buttons to push don’t they?
As we enter the sixth month of two homes, it’s obvious that the honeymoon is over. My ex and I continue to work together although some of the attributes that created riffs between us are starting to creep in and I’m sensing a little more distance between us as our lives begin to go in opposite directions. But I still believe the effort needs to be made to work together as co-parents. I think the kids still need that. They’re watching us and listening hard to every word we say.
We decided early on in our discussions that we would spend Christmas morning together. This first one is going to be tough and forcing the kids to split their time on such an important family day didn’t sound fair on any level. I’m confident it’ll be a great time and will do everything I can to ensure it’s a magical day for the kids first and foremost.
How are the holidays for your family? What are the struggles you go through? I can only imagine how difficult it is for those of you who don’t have the support of your ex in those regards. Be strong and stay focused on the kids. It has helped me through many an angry moment and as I venture into my first Christmas as a single dad … I’ll continue to use that as my compass.