Important but Painful Realizations about Divorce

MAN-DIVORCE

Important but Painful Realizations about Divorce

Are you going through an unexpected divorce? This can be a devastating experience. Whether it’s being constantly reminded of your spouse or having trouble adjusting to single life, lots of people have made these important but painful realizations about divorce and come out the other end stronger. Though this advice may sound hollow or cliché, it may be exactly what you need to hear to help you get back on the road to independence, recovery and contentment.

Just remember that following a divorce should be a period of grieving. But things can only improve over time. In the beginning it can be an emotional roller coaster. But once things level out you do feel a little bit better every day. If you have children with your ex, you are going to have to get used to the situation. Don’t let seeing them again open old wounds. Find a healthy way to interact. Put on your best face and move forward. Find healthy ways to help yourself heal and feel better; exercise, meditation, or talking to a good friend are all good ways. Alcohol, junk food and locking yourself up for months at a time, not so much.

You’re going to be okay. This is a mantra for a lot of divorced people. But if you repeat it to yourself enough times, have enough talks with friends, cry, and reconnect with yourself, though the pain is immense in the beginning, you start to know that your happiness doesn’t begin or end with a divorce. It begins or ends with you, who you are, who you choose to be and the choices you make. Realize how better off you are without that person in your life. Is this the kind of relationship you want? Of course not. You need someone who is loving, supportive, appreciative and who will be there for you no matter what. And if you are reading this it’s obvious your ex wasn’t that person.

You can view it as the end of a marriage. Or you can view it as a new beginning. If someone tells you they are there for you to talk, believe them and use them. It will really help you. Gather your network around you. You need all the support you can get. When people tell you their sorry, understand that they are on your side. They don’t know what to say exactly. But they want to comfort you. If they say this, believe them. For more advice read, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser.

Telling your Ex you’re Pregnant with his Child

Early-Pregnancy

Telling your Ex you’re Pregnant with his Child

It’s frightening when you find out that you’re pregnant when you’ve already broken up with your ex. You could feel abandoned and all alone when you need help most. How can you break the news to him now? How will he take it? Telling your ex you’re pregnant with his child isn’t easy, but it has to be done. He is the father and has the right to know. What’s more, this will change the dynamic of your relationship forever. There are a few things you should keep in mind at this tenuous time. First, don’t blame him. When pregnancy is unexpected tension is high. Sometimes we look for someone to blame to help cope with and assuage these feelings that we are having. Remember that two people are required for pregnancy to occur. So if you are going to point the finger realize that it can just as easily be pointed at you. Realize that this is a serious situation. Oftentimes exes are an ex for a serious reason. Was it something that can be overcome or was it unforgivable? Whether he cheated, stole, lied or what have you, this isn’t the time to bring it up. Avoid throwing past mistakes in his face. It’ll only make matters worse. What’s important now is how you two are going to interact in the future for the sake of this child.

Don’t hide this child from the father. Not only is it not fair to the father it isn’t fair to the child either. Most men, if given the choice, choose to be in a child’s life. More often than not then you are robbing the child of their father. If and when they find out, either party may never forgive you. If you are still in contact with this person, do not break the news during an argument. Instead, try to have it during a calm situation when there is plenty of time to talk about it and no distractions. Face to face is certainly the best way to go about it. You don’t want him to associate this pivotal moment with any negativity. Give him time to accept the fact that you are pregnant. Sometimes when a pregnancy isn’t planned, one or both parties have a difficult time accepting it. It’s actually normal. People need time to come to understand and accept such a weighty matter. If he is not overjoyed immediately, don’t get upset with him. It can be a big shock. By the time the baby is about to arrive however, both you and he should be accepting of the pregnancy. Think about what your ex might say when he hears. Will he suggest reconciling for the sake of the child? Or will he be afraid he can’t afford a child and worry about the expense? Just take it one day at a time and see what is best for the sake of the child. For advice on co-parenting once the child is born read, Families Apart: Ten Keys to Successful Co-Parenting by Melinda Blau.

Finding Happiness Post-Divorce

LIFE-AFTER-DIVORCE

Finding Happiness Post-Divorce

After a divorce, your life will change forever. It’s a monumental pivot. But just like any other metamorphosis in your life, how you choose to see it is really up to you. It can be devastating and leave you a husk of your former self, bitter, depressed and alone. Or you could see it as a brand new start and springboard yourself into the life you’ve always dreamed of. The choice, as with any other choice when it comes to perspective, is up to you. Lots of people experience a divorce as a positive chance in one’s life. Lots of people in a recent Reddit thread talked about how divorce had had positive aspects in their life. Some were even happier years after the divorce took place. Some people talked about higher self-confidence, a sense of inner peace, the ability to pursue their dreams unencumbered. Sure sadness would creep in now and again, just like for anyone else. But the good days outweighed the bad. It seems tough to look at the positive aspects of a divorce while you’re going through it, especially if it’s a long drawn-out process with lots of painful things brought up, revenge tactics or a tit-for-tat mentality. But there is light on the other side of the courtroom door.

There are lots of couples who stay together for the kids. They think the children don’t know that they fight. But it turns out the kids always know somehow all along. A high conflict relationship is definitely not good for the kids. Studies have shown that having children of divorce fare much better than those living in a high conflict household. Even in a low conflict household, children can also sense when the parents aren’t happy. Pursuing happiness isn’t only important for you, it’s also a great lesson to teach your children. Would you want them to wallow in an unhappy marriage in order to make you happy? So don’t put this undue burden on them. In fact, you may have a better relationship with your ex and your children’s parent than you would when you two lived together. There are some couples that are great but just can’t live together. It has something to do with their personalities. The fighting over little things goes away once you are divorced and you can begin to focus on what’s important for the children and on what other decisions you have to make together. Remember to take it day to day. You choose how much you can handle each day. Go through your own healing process but make sure you come out stronger, happier and better adjusted at the other end. For more advice read, Growing Through Divorce by Jim Smoke.

The Best Support to Offer a Child when telling them About the Divorce

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The Best Support to Offer a Child when telling them About the Divorce

Parents often see divorce coming down the pike from a long way off. But to children, the news can seem sudden and can rock their very foundation. It’s important for children and parents to talk openly at this time. You should be supportive, loving, honest and approachable not just on the day you tell them, but every day afterward. Otherwise, the impact on the children can be serious and long-lasting. Talking to the children and letting them know about the divorce is one of the hardest things you can do as a parent. Co-parenting from this point on is one of the best things you can do, to counteract problems. It depends on how well you get along with your ex. But telling the children about the divorce together, establishing the same rules and consequences at both houses, and making sure schedules like school, sports and extra-curricular activities carry on can help iron out problems and send the message that just because a divorce is occurring, doesn’t mean life ends. Though there will be some changes, many things will stay the same and that should be of great comfort to them.

Plan out how you will tell the children and keep their feelings in mind. There are parents who pull nightmare scenarios on kids. For instance, when a child finds out about the divorce after one of the parents has already moved out, or when a child is told without anyone available to console them. How the divorce is presented to the child often sets the tone for how present and available the parent will be as the divorce unfolds. Although a divorce is hard on everyone, being there for the child, responding to their needs and giving them love, support and perspective can help them cope and come through healthy and well-adjusted. The one silver lining in a divorce may be that it can deepen your relationship with your children. It’s important to let the child know that it isn’t there fault. Lots of children at any age blame themselves for the breakup of their parent’s marriage. Moreover, this message may need to be reinforced from time to time.

Another significant message to send is that just because you and your ex’s marriage didn’t work out doesn’t mean the child’s future relationships are doomed. Show them through love, support, nurturing and caring how loved they are. Build a supportive home life and your child’s future love life won’t be tainted by the breakup of their parents. Some parents take particular care breaking the news. But then they think that once the child is informed that they can move on. In fact, children do better when parents have follow up conversations with them about the divorce and how they are doing. Sometimes the parent’s own guilt, confusion, anger, pain and loss can preoccupy them.  Children’s pain mainly comes from feeling abandoned and having their emotions minimized.

Parents can counteract this by being there for them, being open, asking the child how they are feeling and working through those feelings with them. Each child will respond to the trauma of a divorce in their own unique way. Parents have to learn how to support the children in their response. Certainly not all of the problems with the marriage or the impending divorce should be shared with the child. But neither should they be cast aside, as if the divorce has nothing to do with them. It affects their lives. So they must be let in, in an appropriate manner. Listen to your children. Let them know that you understand and that you care. One of the best things you can do is let them know that you get them. You understand how they are feeling and empathize. You understand why they reacted how they did and why they are acting the way they are. You “get them.” There is nothing more comforting than to be fully understood. Then let them know that you will always be there for them and will always love them. Nothing is going to change that. To learn more read the book, Your Child’s Divorce: What to Expect…What You Can Do by Marsha Temlock.

What Content should Online Co-parenting Classes Have?

Custody

What Content should Online Co-parenting Classes Have?

Some states now require divorcing couples with children to take classes online in co-parenting. Experts believe that these classes are beneficial as they teach parents how to position themselves in order to take care of the child’s needs given the new family dynamic. The trouble is that each divorce and family situation is unique. Since divorces aren’t uniform, what content should these classes have? Experts say it should have many different tracks. One section should be for parents to mitigate their own emotions. A parent’s emotional state will inevitably affect the children and the divorce process, which affects them as well. The better a parent can cope, the better the child will do as well. University of Illinois researcher Jill Bowers who specializes in human and community development says there should also be sections for specific problems such as alcoholism and violence.  “There is no cookie-cutter divorcing couple, and with online programming, educators are able to supply content that applies to diverse family situations,” said Bowers. She began evaluating online courses in divorce education in 2011. Bowers continued saying, “Program developers could create a two-hour core component that would apply to many divorcing or separating couples with children; then parents could have the option of choosing other topics based on their interests, or results of a pre-test could direct parents to further hours of programming based on their unique needs.”

Bowers authored a recent study evaluating such a program. 1,543 participants took part in these online courses. The creator of the program asked the researcher to provide feedback. 46 states now require parents to take online co-parenting classes when divorcing. The length of time varies depending upon the state. From two to six hours of programming is generally required before a divorce can be granted. Bowers said, “Divorcing parents must pay for these classes, which used to involve classroom instruction. In the past decade, however, course selection has expanded to include many online offerings, and that’s created a market for online program developers and educators.” Bowers checks to see whether or not programs are based on actual research. She says, “An online search for parenting after divorce generates millions of results, but that doesn’t mean the answers you’ll find are from credible or reliable sources. I believe it’s important for online educators to cite their courses and explicitly talk about their conceptual foundations so audiences can distinguish credible sources from self-proclaimed experts. Then judges and parents should look for programs that are scientifically grounded in divorce, child development, relationships, and communication literature.”

Most programs focus on child-parent communication and interaction. Bowers says they do a good job in helping parents communicate what is happening in the divorce to children at different ages and stages. There are lots of strategies to help children deal with their new family dynamic and for handling a situation where one parent is bad-mouthing the other. “But adult-focused content could be enhanced. For example, research shows that parents who have not had time to grieve the loss of the relationship may experience emotional issues, and because of their grief or anger, they may be unable to help their children cope. Programs could be improved by adding content that helps parents address their emotional needs so they would be better equipped to help their children through the transition period. We’d also like to see strategies that parents can use when conflict is escalating,” Bowers said. Some adult lessons would include topics such as sex, cohabitation, introducing a child to a new partner and blended families. What’s more, the legal system parents enter into is complex and confusing according to Bower. Online programs could enlighten parents on items including mediation, legal terms and processes, financial obligations—including child support and more. Bowers said, “The companies that have developed these programs appear to be very committed to helping families. The ones we have worked with have been especially responsive to our evaluations. We know that divorce is a really tough time for families, and we hope that these suggestions for adapting course content and design of mandated co-parenting classes can not only make a difficult and often traumatic experience easier but that it can also optimize outcomes for parents and children going through this process.” To learn more about divorce as a process and how to come out of it in a good position read, The Divorce Survival Guide: The Roadmap for Everything from Divorce Finance to Child Custody by Calistoga Press.