From my seven year old tonight as I was tucking her in.
“This divorce is tough on us kids you know. I mean, we have to keep TWO bedrooms clean, keep up with TWO sets of clothes, it’s tough Dad.”
So easy to get lost in how a divorce changes our lives. I think we make a lot of assumptions when it comes to our kids. Even in our attempts to ensure that they’re getting everything they need, I think it’s impossible to fathom what their perception is and how this is affecting them.
I think the best you can do is continually provide an open forum. Ask them questions as you’re tucking them in. Let one of them help make dinner and ask them how they’re doing. Amazing what they’ll tell you if you simply ask. And what I’m working really hard at is validating their concerns rather than dismissing them or brushing them off. Along with the hugs I try to remind myself to offer them an ear and do your best to truly listen.
It’s not always easy, especially when life is especially full, and like most of you I can easily get wrapped up in the day to day hassles. But some of the things I’ve learned from listening encourage me to keep those lines of communication open.
For example; my daughters have been pushing me to go on e-harmony. They say I need a girlfriend. But a deeper look provided some better insights. When I asked “why” I need a girlfriend, they advised me that it would be nice to have someone else pick us up at the bus stop sometimes and make dinner and help with homework so I can work later. They also told me it would be nice to have someone else that could play with one of them while I go do something with one of the other ones.
What I gathered from this new information was that they miss the mom / dad family dynamic. There’s security in it for them. They miss one on one time and being able to go run errands with one of us while the other stays home with the other two. As I see it, it’s obvious that as well as things have gone, they’re still struggling with the adjustment.
And who isn’t? Why should we expect anything less? Hell, I still can’t make sense of it and find myself overwhelmed with all the extra hats I now wear. What would make me think they’ve already fully adjusted and have moved on? I’m sure they get an earful from friends at school as well. Lord only knows what stories they hear and what new fears they come home with each day. I can only imagine how dangerous it would be to let those fester.
I can’t help but think that the best answer is simply ensuring open communication and making sure that I don’t let my life get in the way of being there when they need to talk. That has to be the number one priority. If it means being 10 minutes late for an appointment, so be it.
And maybe instead of coming down on them for having a messy room, perhaps offering to help them once in a while knowing they have two to keep up with can’t hurt either.