No one ever gets married thinking they may get divorced someday. Yet, it does happen sometimes and is not an easy reality to accept. It gets more complicated when children are involved, since they are outside the realm of the partnership and do not really understand what went wrong. Children are caught off-guard and could feel directionless as the core of their happy family is shaken. That is where the importance of parenting after divorce comes in.
How we are co-parenting after divorce
I am Smitha, a divorced mother of two. My mother would always say even a thief wants the best for his children…I am no thief but I am no different. When my marriage crumbled, I was shattered, but I always knew it was coming. It never happens overnight. You try to do some damage control…I did too. Except it didn’t work.
It did not work out between us but that doesn’t mean he is not a good person or a good father. I wanted my children to understand that. During the divorce proceedings (which can take a while) I discussed at length with my husband about protecting our children as much as possible and he agreed vehemently. He is a parent, too, and wants to succeed at being a good parent, after all.
Related reading: How to fight right in divorce
I make a conscious effort not to bad-mouth him or talk ill of him in front of my children. Whenever we meet and my children are going to spend time with their father, we are mostly polite and amicable. Children observe very keenly and absorb everything like a sponge.
The after effects of divorce on children
Of course, there are times when I am in a spot and left to answer very difficult questions that sprout in an innocent mind. My daughter asks, “Does he not love us anymore?” or “Did I do something wrong?” or “Why can’t we all live together?” and I am at a loss for words. As parents, we both tell them whenever possible how much we love them and cherish them in our lives… We are very open with them and have long conversations about anything and everything.
Naturally, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies all the time. There is rebellion in the household very often, not just because they are teens, but also since we are separated.
What makes for successful co-parenting after divorce
At times, I wonder if they manipulate this fact to their advantage or are genuinely in a turmoil. My friends assure me that it’s a natural progression and I have nothing to worry about. The only difference is that I lack the support of a partner to guide and support me or even share the pain of raising such difficult children.
I am very clear about one important aspect. When they rebel about serious issues, I make it a point to talk to their father. We discuss and remain consistent in our decision, whether it is a yes or no.
When parents say different things, that is when the children begin to get confused and tend to manipulate the situation to their advantage, irrespective of whether you are together or separated.
Despite going through turmoil in my relationship and the eventual separation, I am optimistic for the future. I feel strongly that I will definitely find someone who accepts me for all I am, with all the baggage I have and someone who will love my children – not necessarily as his own – I don’t expect that! Just love them too for who they are – good human beings.
(As told to Janani Rajagopalan)