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S/O Tips for Divorcing /Divorced Parents


arnold
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Well I wish they'd figured out WELL before the divorce that you don't have babies until you've grown up and got your own act together, but I guess that ship sailed before I was born, so...

 

To be honest, it would have been better for me all round if my father had just disappeared quietly. There was no great animosity, but it was hugely disruptive to spend two holidays a year on the other side of the country with a step family and kids from that neighbourhood as imposed 'friends'. Maybe if I'd been less introverted this wouldn't have been as much of an issue. Lesson 1: You screwed up, don't disrupt your kids' lives so you feel better about 'keeping in contact' - find out what they want. (And I don't mean you personally, I mean divorcing adults in general.)

 

The nail in the coffin of a relationship with me was probably when I figured out that my father had remarried by seeing her married name written on a document when I visited them. Lesson 2: Don't lie.

 

And from my personal experience: if you're the custodial parent, don't remarry while they're still minors: it makes the child to some extent a guest in their own home living by another's rule. Lesson 3: You had kids - they come first.

 

No happy tips from me, I'm afraid. My parents divorce was civil, and it was still an enormously damaging experience, and definitely the fundamental experience of my childhood. The points I made above would have mitigated the worst of it for me.

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What did make it easy to deal with is that they were always polite to each other.  There was not fighting, during or after their marriage.  There was not drug/alcohol abuse. My dad faithfully paid his child support; in fact, he wouldn't have dreamed not doing so. Their relationship was casual and usually relaxed and comfortable and never competitive.  For several years after they split, when neither had other plans, my dad came over to share holidays with us.

 

They often had boyfriends/girlfriends, some significant, some not so much.  All but one of those had no problems with my parents being friendly to each other.  That took SO much pressure off of us as kids.  In fact, I recently sought out an ex-gf of my dad's on FB specifically to thank her for being so warm and friendly to us kids, never making us feel like we were a burden, and never making us feel like we were intruding on their time together.  She was surprised, but it obviously left a long-lasting impression on me.

 

My parents divorced almost 40 years ago.  They each still occasionally (1-2x a year) send out group emails to us siblings and include each other, just like any very old and mostly distant friend might do.

 

But both parents have to be on board and actively work at this kind of relationship.  I'm sure it wasn't always as easy as they made it seem. It made all of the difference in the world for us, very unlike most of my friends back then with divorced parents.

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My parents separated when I was 7.  I don't remember what they told me about it.  I don't remember much at all from that far back.  I think the best thing my parents did was remain friends.  They could always talk to each other, there was never any animosity between them.  They're still friends - they play some word game over Facebook and have been for years.  There were a number of years (almost 10) where we had two family vacations each year when everyone would come to my home and stay for a week or so - over Christmas and then in the summer.  It was really nice for everyone to spend time with them both without any weirdness.  

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I am very happy to have my step-father in my life.

 

Other than that I agree with the usual advice.

 

Either to get along as well as possible, OR, to set as appropriate of boundaries as possible.

 

Or some combination of the two.

 

Personally I was more comfortable when my parents had boundaries, than when they were doing things jointly. It was what felt more natural for me. But my oldest sister really appreciated it when they did joint things, it made it easier for her, than to do two things, or switch off, or create a new tradition.

 

I think creating new traditions, and letting some old traditions go to the ex, goes a long way.

 

My mom never moped if I was at my dad's for Christmas morning, she started her own tradition of holding a Christmas brunch for friends and international students from her church.

 

My step-mom started a tradition with me, where we would stop at Sonic for drinks.

 

My step-dad had some traditions with me, too. For example, he took me to breakfast sometimes (probably once/twice a month).

 

My dad started taking me to miniature golf, which he had never done before.

 

I think that looking at the positive and finding new things to do, in addition to old traditions, can be really nice. Most of the things I am thinking of are little things, but it was nice to just take a minute out of the day and do something nice together.

 

Edit: I don't know why this is, but my older sister likes joint things where everyone comes. Like -- her daughter has a birthday, and she wants everybody to come, and my mom and step-mom are in the kitchen together, and my dad and step-dad are sitting on the couch together chatting.

 

She does not think it is weird at all, she really likes it.

 

But I think it is weird!

 

When it is my choice, I do two separate birthday lunches. Or, if it is a larger gathering, like a birthday party at a party place or something, I don't mind at all if they are both there. But I do feel like it is weird for the small gatherings, and my sister doesn't. This has shifted over time, and now we do not have these kinds of gatherings anymore that I feel are weird. But if we go to watch my niece play soccer, it does feel completely natural to me to sit together on the sidelines.

 

I think I just feel like -- not everything has to be together, even if it is nice for some things to be together.

 

My sister used to have a big "how things are supposed to be" thing, that I just did not have in the same way. But in thinking about it, it has been probably 10 years since the last birthday supper she had that felt weird to me. Like -- I like it that we all get along and can be at the same place. I don't think we need to pretend like some people are best friends who are actually not best friends. But my sister and I are different people on that, I guess.

 

I think my response is tempered a lot by time.... and let's face it, all the parents and step-parents involved are people who are happy to talk for hours about how wonderful the grandchildren are, and that is all they talk about now, and my oldest niece is 15, so.... they have been on good terms enjoying the grandchildren for quite a while now.

Edited by Lecka
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If your child is holding it together, don't assume that everything is okay.  She has every right to feel upset - even if the adults feel as if they are doing an excellent job of hiding their own conflicts.

 

I remember going to my father's second wedding.  I was very distressed, but keeping it all inside.  Until the end of his life I was grateful to my uncle who came up and asked how I was doing.  I don't know if my father just thought everything was okay, or whether he feared asking in case the floodgates opened, but I really could have done with the acknowledgement.

 

Funnily enough, after my uncle it was my half-sister who asked me, twenty years later, how it had felt.  

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I can't really think of anything mine could have done different.  There are things I had wished my mother would change but, as an adult, I understand they weren't possible.  As far as my father goes, changes would have required him to be a very different human being, in which case there wouldn't have been any divorce.

 

I think the majority of adults do the best they can in the situation they're in.

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My parents did not divorce but I had a lot of childhood friends whose parents did divorce.  What seemed to cause the most damage:

 

1.  Lying to the kids.

2.  Bickering and name calling between the parents.

3.  Lack of respect all around.

4.  Untreated depression.

5.  Significant others being treated with lots of love and respect while kids are treated like guests in their own home.

6.  Parents getting defensive any time the kids are upset/angry/sad, instead of acknowledging their feelings and helping them cope.

7.  Constantly being shuffled back and forth between houses so things get lost, school work doesn't get turned in, rules are inconsistent between the two locations so the kids aren't sure what is expected, etc. and the kids pay the price.

8.  Kids being used as pawns to get back at the other parent.

9.  Ex In-laws treating the kids badly because of issues with the other parent but the kids having no control over whether they have to be in the emotionally abusive environment or not (like every other kid gets a Christmas gift from the grandparents but your kid doesn't because "they weren't good enough this year") and they are not allowed to talk about it.

10.  Not accepting that every child is different and what one needs another may find hurtful or useless for dealing with the situation.

11.  Bad mouthing the other parent/ex-inlaws in front of the kids (there is a difference between bad mouthing and allowing a child to acknowledge painful experiences and sharing your own in support).

 

What seemed to work for those that had divorces with fewer negative consequences:

1.  Open communication.

2.  Consistency.

3.  Treating everyone with respect (hard if only one side is willing to do so)

4.  Acknowledgement of everyone's feelings and helping them find healthy ways to cope

5.  Anyone suffering from true depression getting treatment

6.  Having one primary care giver during the academic school year so school work/teacher communication/instruction were consistent and supported.

7.  Working with each individual child and accepting that different kids handle things differently.

8.  Not lying (but that doesn't mean you need to share every dirty secret and stressful moment)

9.  Creating special new routines/traditions (including with SOs).

10.  If the divorce occurred because of alcohol or drug abuse or physical abuse, when at all possible legally completely removing the child(ren) from contact with the parent with the issue until they get treatment (or never if they can't or won't).

11.  Not leaning on the kids all the time for emotional support when things are painful for the parent

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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My mom would bad mouth my dad in my presence. She also grilled me about him when I got home after a weekend visit. I hated all of that. It make me feel bad about my mom and that hurt me a lot.

 

I should add that I never bad mouthed my ex or his wife in my dd's presence, but I know they made disparaging remarks about me. It's one of the reasons my dd started hating being there with them and moved in with me full time. They really hurt their relationship with her because of it.

Edited by Night Elf
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I have thanked my parents many times as an adult for how they divorced. While they made some missteps, for the most part, I feel like they did it right. First and foremost, they didn't use us as pawns or spill too much of their drama on us. I mean, I heard some of it, but mostly I didn't know the ins and outs until I was an adult. I think that was good. They always used respectful language when talking about the other. There was a little bit of, oh, your father hasn't paid this month or your mother did such and such, but they generally caught themselves and didn't carry on.

 

Most importantly, they let each other make the mistakes they were going to make. My mother didn't step in and rescue us when my father screwed up when he had us over the summer. And my father didn't try and sweep in and be the fun parent when we were annoyed with mom.

 

In general, I find a lot of the divorces I hear about these days to be baffling from my perspective. So many people share custody and it seems like a nightmare. They're all up in each other's business all the time. They try to spend holidays together "for the sake of the children." If one parent is supposed to do something, like pick up the kids, and doesn't, the other one has to jump in and do it. It seems downright impossible to just move on and be happy. I find it all so bizarre. From my perspective as a kid, I felt like having one custodial parent and generous visits with the non-custodial parent was a good set up.

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Another thought: please, please move on if it is at all possible.  My parents split up forty years ago, and my mother still needs to go over and over her relationship with my father, the break-up of the marriage, etc.  She wasn't able to rebuild her life - there were reasons for this, I don't blame her - but if you possibly can make a new life, it will be a gift to your children, as well as yourself.

Edited by Laura Corin
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Take care of your own "stuff."  If it's a one-sided divorce, the one who is left with an empty hole in their life, with mourning and grief and loneliness, needs to be very careful not to try to use the kids to fill that hole.

 

Re: remarriage. Don't pressure kids from two original families to act as if the original family did not exist. IOW, don't pressure the kids to be the "Brady Bunch." Your deep desire for all the kids to "get along" and act like one big happy family is pressure if your kids want to please you, which most do. Especially if the kids are older, don't assume that your kids will want a new "parent." Let the relationship be between them and your new spouse (ie "My mother's husband" or my "father's wife") as opposed to between them and a new mother or father. Not all kids want a step-parent relationship and may be very sensitive to any potential attempt to "replace" the other parent with a new model. If you want to assure conflict, pressure your kids. :/  Be thoughtful about protecting the assets you intend for your kids to have before a remarriage. Be intentional about maintaining ties. In my experience, because it is so much more usual for women to be the ones to maintain social connections in a family, fathers need to be especially aware of this. 

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Another thought: please, please move on if it is at all possible.  My parents split up forty years ago, and my mother still needs to go over and over her relationship with my father, the break-up of the marriage, etc.  She wasn't able to rebuild her life - there were reasons for this, I don't blame her - but if you possibly can make a new life, it will be a gift to your children, as well as yourself.

Oh, I agree with this.  I have friends who really lost respect for their mom because she could not get past the divorce.  She did not move on, start a new life, find joy again, seek out her own personal interests.  She wallowed.  For years.  The kids were sympathetic and supportive at first.  The divorce was painful.  After a while, though, they got really tired of hearing about how their father hurt her and how miserable she was, and even when she didn't talk about it, it was obvious she wasn't past it.  Again, this falls into if someone is clinically depressed, get help.  (Easier said than done in many instances, but there it is).

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Not sure how to fix it.... but one thing that was really hard for me was events that I was in.... say school award nights. My parents would be on opposite sides of the room, whicb I understood..... but I always had to devide which parent to go see first afterwards..... it was like I had to pick between them each time.

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

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I hate thinking back to the divorce years... it messed up my sister's life forever and certainly ruined years of mine.

 

My parents put the two of us in the middle - "Tell your mom/dad this," etc.  Neither could speak anything good of the other - ever.  They still don't.

 

My sister and I split up.  She lived with mom.  I lived with dad.  We didn't get to see each other much afterward and where we were good friends up until that day, a separation began afterward.

 

Mom was ok going to major events (graduation/wedding) even if dad was there, but dad wouldn't go if mom was there.  This means dad didn't come to my wedding or high school/college graduations.

 

Both lied about each other, but my dad's lies about mom were far, far worse.  He had her sleeping with pretty much every co-worker at the school she worked at, both male and female.  I was eleven at the time.  It never occurred to me parents would/could lie.  I missed six years of life with my mom.  I saw her sometimes and had to visit on some weekends, of course, but I hated the sight of her - needlessly.  Since I lived with dad, I naturally took his side.

 

Neither could like the same thing, so when I brought hubby up to meet them (we were engaged), dad only liked him until he found out my mom did.  After that I was "making a huge mistake."

 

Fortunately, I had horses and the Great Outdoors to fill my life/time and later on (age 16?) I also found a "home" in our local Christian youth group + church.   I personally think I turned out ok.  I won't go into what's happened to my sister.  We still talk on the phone occasionally, but prior to the divorce she was the "better" of the two of us in every way (school, friends, etc).  It's never been that way afterward.  The divorce hit her harder and she didn't have my escapes.

 

My dad ended up driving me batty too, so my senior year of high school I left him to live with my mom.  That was awkward and I never felt at home in either place.  I couldn't wait to get as far away from home as I could with college - and went AFROTC because truly getting farther away was so appealing - plus a scholarship paid for college.

 

Later on... in college... I was taking an Abnormal Psych class and my textbook used my dad as an example.  Granted, his name wasn't there, but his actions sure were.  It was like they were describing him in person.  After that, over a few more years, I started to realize the truth of what had happened and now I have a great relationship with my mom, but a mere cordial one (at best) with my dad (and that's only because I feel bound to him by that Honor Thy Mother & Father bit).  I still regret all the years I missed with my mom because the two of us didn't really start getting close until much more recently.  She saw a small bit of my married life and her grandkids, but it could have been so much more.  Now she's a full part of it, but now she's also 72 years old...

 

I don't blame my mom for getting divorced.  I fully understand it and where she was coming from.  I left my dad my senior year of high school too.  My dad remarried (to a terrific lady) some years later and she divorced him within a couple of years as well.  Mental illnesses are difficult to live with.  I just wish I had understood all of it much earlier in my life.

 

I'm not sure what advice to give to be honest.  My dad tried sending me to counseling when he and I had issues, but I was a bit smarter than the average bear and avoided actually dealing with anything - plus they might have figured out he was the problem more than I was, but if so, they didn't say anything to me.

 

To make it better?  Don't get divorced?  For my mom to have done that dad would have needed to get help and dad doesn't see where there's anything wrong with him, so...

 

Stay friends afterward?  Difficult to do when the other party doesn't feel the same way.

 

Don't lie?  This one CAN be done, but again, if the other party is lying, it's tough.

 

I guess my best advice is to be sure any kids have safe escapes - either critters or people (outside the family) where they can 100% de-stress.  I think that's the only thing that literally saved me (both my critters and later the youth group leaders I could confide with).

Edited by creekland
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From my perspective as the kid . . .

 

+ Never bad mouth each other. Ever. Neither of my parents EVER bad mouthed the other. To their dying days. This is huge. Fortunately, my parents were both decent people. If one is a really bad person, then, of course, this won't work. 

 

+ The non-custodial parent should focus on just the visiting kid when the kid visits. My dad did this beautifully. He'd incorporate me into his adult social activities (dinner parties, church, etc.), but I was the focus. No other kids to compete with. No girl friend to compete with. 

 

+ Don't remarry (or date seriously) until the kids are up and out. This is a hard one, but I think it is important. My dad never remarried, and that's likely why we kept a close relationship even with just weekends/holidays visitations. My mom remarried for 5 years when I was a kid, and those were tough years! Their divorce was a relief!!! I think focusing on your kids, your work, your family is what you need to do as a divorced parent. Sorry, no new spouse IMHO. Bad for kids in general. The studies are pretty clear on this. OF COURSE there are major exceptions and I know some kids who are beyond blessed by their step-parent . . . but, as a rule, it's a really bad idea IMHO. Personally, I'd fly solo until the kids are in college. If I *had* to date, I'd only do it when the kids were with the other parent, and my kids would know nothing about it.

 

+ Be friendly and civil with the ex-spouse. My mom had my dad to our family holiday dinners for our entire lives with just a couple year break when they were freshly divorced. Even when I had a step-dad . . . When I was a young adult and lived far away from family, my mom and dad would EACH come for holidays, coordinating to overlap for just a day or two over the holiday, and then have their longer weeklong visits on either side of the holiday. They doted on my babies, they got to be with all of us for the 1st Christmases, etc. They were GROWN UPS. Personally, I think this is a fundamental human responsibility. You might have screwed up in choosing the wrong spouse/co-parent, but for goodness sake, make the best of it and grow the f#$% up now that you are divorced and make it easy for your kids, who were blameless in this. 

 

+ Suck up the financial issues. It's not your kid's fault you divorced. Don't let them suffer because of it. My parents were both great about this, too. 

 

I'm still bummed that my parents didn't stay together (and I think they each realized that years later), but I gave them total credit for being great divorced parents. The divorce still left wounds in their kids, but not any more than absolutely necessary. 

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The best thing my parents did was stay nice to one another (never spoke negatively about the other) and they let all four of us come and go as we wanted. We didn't live that far apart and neither parent had a problem getting us where we wanted to be. They never acted upset or hurt about it either.I really needed that for holidays because the idea of not seeing both on Christmas sucked. It was nice to be able to spend time with both.

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My experience was a bad one... what NOT to do. Don't bad mouth. Don't make quiet, "over-their-heads" comments to your new spouse about the other parent; it's not over the kids' heads. Learning that *where you came from* (i.e., one parent) is stupid, annoying, bad, etc. is very damaging. Your ex has surely hurt you terribly but do not vent to your kids. Try to be friends. If you can sit together at events, that's great. Don't make the kids ever feel like that have to choose. 

 

Reading some of the things here that good, mature parents did makes me realize just how jacked up my childhood was. :(

 

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Also, allow for some autonomy in the teen years. My dad made me feel terrible for ever talking to friends on the phone at his house, for wanting to spend Mother's Day with my mom (it was "his weekend"), etc. I missed so many special events because it was "his weekend" and all we would do at his house was sit around and read. He never related to me, he just wanted me there because it was HIS TURN, DARN IT. 

 

Also, do not lean on kids for emotional support. Do not make one of them your spouse by making that kid your confidant. It's abusive. It's called emotional incest and it's a thing. 

 

Do not make your kids ask the other parent something for you. My mom told me to ask my dad "why do you live with ___ now?" (Girlfriend) So passive-aggressive and wrong, but as a 6-year-old, you have no idea.

Edited by Janie Grace
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1. Don't move the kids far away if possible.

 

2. Don't keep moving the kids around while you chase new partners. Kids need stability more than you need romance.

 

3. Don't just disappear from the kids lives because the custodial parent is difficult. If you hear bad things about their home life then stick up for your kids!

 

4. When the kids travel interstate to visit you, don't spend most of it working and leave the kids with step parent.

 

5. Talk to the kids about remarrying before doing it. It's not a nice surprise.

 

6. Don't make the kids live with your abusive partner.

 

7. Don't try to get out of paying child support, and don't tell the kids about it.

 

8. Don't assume that as teens they are old enough to hear and deal with 'the truth' about the other parent.

 

9. Do get them counselling. One joint session with your therapist doesn't count.

 

10. The kids are not your therapist either, don't dump it on them.

 

Numbers 1-3 & 6 were the worst. Numbers 4&5 made stepparent relationship more fraught than it needed to be.

 

Yeah, stellar childhood, thanks mum and dad.

Edited by LMD
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I disagree with the don't date advice. I'm glad both my parents moved on with their lives. I didn't love all the people they dated (there was this totally weird German woman... oy... and this slightly creepy friendly minister guy...), but they were careful not to let us meet anyone unless it was pretty serious. And no one was horrible to us. I think you can't move on unless you have the freedom to... move on. And there's nothing worse than not moving on. There are so many things that trap you after a divorce - you often have to move out of your home but aren't legally allowed to leave the area, you now have to routinely negotiate with someone you no longer really care for, your finances are shot, your kids and you are in emotional crisis... to say that you can't even take control of your relationships... Oy. Both my parents made it clear to us that they were individuals and we mattered most, but their lives also mattered and we had to respect that.

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I actually get along well with my step mother now, now that I'm an adult and she doesn't try to parent me, and I'm happy my dad is happy. I always wanted my mum to be happy too, I just needed some stability! The last time she moved in with a guy while I was still at home (17) I moved out - and she's never forgiven me, the time before that I cried in the restaurant when they told us (different guys).

Edited by LMD
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Divorce sucks

 

Parents getting involved with other people with or without kids sucked

 

Parents blaming the child for where the child lives sucked

 

Becoming the go to babysitter/caretaker of a younger sibling(s) sucked

 

One parent being verbal about wishing the other parent would die and being graphic about how it should happen sucked

 

Don't separate or divorce close to a holiday like Christmas or a kids birthday

 

Pay your child support so you don't end up in jail and if you end up in jail because of it don't blame your kid

 

Having mentors and productive activities outside of the home/family really helped

 

It took me a long time to learn how to be a wife after getting married and to not take treat my dh badly because of experiences I had growing up.  I am still insecure and deal with a sense of abandonment at times and it has been close to 30 years since my parents divorced.

 

I didn't want kids for a long time because of having to care for my younger brother so much and it was so difficult.  I would love to have more kids now, but having dd took a long time and I am now in my early 40's and dd is 6 and I figure I am not likely to get pregnant again.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mama Geek
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I actually get along well with my step mother now, now that I'm an adult and she doesn't try to parent me, and I'm happy my dad is happy. I always wanted my mum to be happy too, I just needed some stability! The last time she moved in with a guy while I was still at home (17) I moved out - and she's never forgiven me, the time before that I cried in the restaurant when they told us (different guys).

 

Ugh. I think you can date or remarry and NOT drag you kids into unstable stuff. At least, I like to think I did. I didn't introduce my son to any dates until I met my now DH, and I only introduced them when it was very serious. At first he was introduced as a friend, and we hung out, and only later when they got along well did we move forward. And it was 2 years before we got married. My son and my husband have a great relationship, and my DH gave my son a lot that he would have missed out on. They ahve a lot of shared interests, etc. But, it helps my ex was always nice to both me and my new husband, they shake hands when they see each other, everyone is an adult about it. And like I said, my son didn't meet anyone until marriage was on the table. And then we discussed it with him (well, I did) before there was a proposal. 

 

His dad actually just got remarried yesterday, and he's fine wiht that too. He like her a lot. And again, his dad didn't bring anyone around until it was very serious. 

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I felt, right or wrong, like I had to be strong because they were weak, to put on a brave face because they could't handle anything more. I wish they would have given me the space (and permission) to be angry. To be hurt. To act out (within reason). Also, don't let it be a surprise. I came back from a summer trip to France to find my mom had moved into a condo with my siblings and left my dad, essentially, homeless. Less than a year later we moved to Arkansas. It was too much change too soon.

Edited by Sneezyone
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I have just remembered this... My dad "got" Christmas Day. I overheard people say things to my mom like "what will you do without your girls on Christmas Day?" It made me worry about my Mom. I think she saw it, be she did start a good Christmas Day tradition where she hosted singles, childless couples, couples whose adult children had other plans, international students, etc for a brunch. Sometimes they played cards or something.

 

It meant a lot to me that she was not going to be left alone on Christmas, and she was not missing us.

 

I would feel very free to enjoy my time with my Dad and Step-Mom.

Edited by Lecka
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There's a lot of hurt on this thread.   :grouphug: to all.

 

I wish that parents would realize that by divorcing, they might be ruining their kids' lives while trying to improve their own.

 

Truthfully, I think that in most cases divorce is very selfish.

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There's a lot of hurt on this thread.   :grouphug: to all.

 

I wish that parents would realize that by divorcing, they might be ruining their kids' lives while trying to improve their own.

 

Truthfully, I think that in most cases divorce is very selfish.

 

I thought that too. Until I was in a horrible marriage that would have warped my son's view of love, responsibility, and relationships. Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did, but the best thing I've ever done, particularly for him. His life would have been much less stable if I'd stayed. He would have grown up with a father neglecting him daily, and a version of marriage and adulthood that would not have served him well. Instead, he saw his father for shorter periods of time - short enough so that his dad could muster the emotional energy to be there for him. And he lived iwth me the rest of the time, with my parents. He got way more time and attention and love from them than he ever did when we lived with my ex. they gave him stability and patience and their time. He learned about routine and structure and how to be in a real family. Not the broken version my marriage had created. And later when I married his stepfather he got a man in his life who took the time to build pinewood derby cars, to take him places, to do things together, side by side. And he saw a man who went to work each day, who did his best for his family and his employer, who volunteered to help the community.

 

My son wouldn't be the young man he is today if I had stayed. 

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I thought that too. Until I was in a horrible marriage that would have warped my son's view of love, responsibility, and relationships. Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did, but the best thing I've ever done, particularly for him. His life would have been much less stable if I'd stayed. He would have grown up with a father neglecting him daily, and a version of marriage and adulthood that would not have served him well. Instead, he saw his father for shorter periods of time - short enough so that his dad could muster the emotional energy to be there for him. And he lived iwth me the rest of the time, with my parents. He got way more time and attention and love from them than he ever did when we lived with my ex. they gave him stability and patience and their time. He learned about routine and structure and how to be in a real family. Not the broken version my marriage had created. And later when I married his stepfather he got a man in his life who took the time to build pinewood derby cars, to take him places, to do things together, side by side. And he saw a man who went to work each day, who did his best for his family and his employer, who volunteered to help the community.

 

My son wouldn't be the young man he is today if I had stayed. 

 

I think that this is what most parents don't consider when they are divorcing.  That their children will be different.

 

Yes, there are cases that turn out better.  I'm glad it did for your son.

 

In my case, my mother left my father who was dealing with undiagnosed PTSD and immediately married a man with other issues.

 

It was really swapping one problem for another for her.  For me, I had to deal with both.

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+ Don't remarry (or date seriously) until the kids are up and out. This is a hard one, but I think it is important. My dad never remarried, and that's likely why we kept a close relationship even with just weekends/holidays visitations. My mom remarried for 5 years when I was a kid, and those were tough years! Their divorce was a relief!!! I think focusing on your kids, your work, your family is what you need to do as a divorced parent. Sorry, no new spouse IMHO. Bad for kids in general. The studies are pretty clear on this. OF COURSE there are major exceptions and I know some kids who are beyond blessed by their step-parent . . . but, as a rule, it's a really bad idea IMHO. Personally, I'd fly solo until the kids are in college. If I *had* to date, I'd only do it when the kids were with the other parent, and my kids would know nothing about it.

 

I have a friend who is getting what seems to be a completely amicable divorce - but she is already living with someone new.  She didn't meet said person till after she and x-dh had mutually decided it was over, but from the time they told the kids it was just a few months.  From her perspective this is totally fine and normal.  I guess it's none of my business, but I can't help but think the kids are being more affected by this than she thinks, even if the parents are being totally friendly and acting like they've just moved right on.  I feel like I should be there somehow for her dd, but I of course don't want to say anything negative about a parent - and this is still a good friend, I'm just not sure what she's thinking?... is there anything you think a good friend's parent could have done to help you through a divorce?  Just tell them they're welcome to visit anytime?

 

Don't quote this I may delete, it's just been weighing on me a bit...

Edited by Matryoshka
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I think that this is what most parents don't consider when they are divorcing.  That their children will be different.

 

Yes, there are cases that turn out better.  I'm glad it did for your son.

 

In my case, my mother left my father who was dealing with undiagnosed PTSD and immediately married a man with other issues.

 

It was really swapping one problem for another for her.  For me, I had to deal with both.

 

You know, that's one of the reasons I am so big on marital counseling, even if you end up divorcing. I went for 2 years, and although in the end things didn't work out, I left with a large bag of tools for how to be in a relationship and communicate properly. I learned a LOT from my first marriage, about my good points and bad points, my weakenesses and strengths, and what I should expect from another person. I credit that with why my next relationship lasted. I still find myself relying on what I learned in therapy, and what I learned from my failed marriage. 

I can totally see how if you don't work on those things you can end up right back in another bad relationship, either because you are the problem, or because you haven't learned what to look for in a person, or a combination of both. 

 

And yes, the kids WILL be different. You can't just expect them to adjust with no issues. And, you have to know that you will still be tied to that spouse forever. And be a grown up about it. Another reason for therapy...you can use those skills when continuing to communicate with your ex spouse. 

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My parents tried hard to do all the right things, and mostly they succeeded.  I did at times realize that there was serious friction, including between the extended family, and I found it very stressful.  But they both tried hard not to show evidence of it - it was harder for my mom who was the one who had been having to cope with the various issues that led to the divorce.

 

My parents were also both careful about dating - we didn't meet anyone as a romantic attachment until things were very serious, as in looking at a permanent relationship.  That counted for a lot I think, even though my dad has had three failed marriages - there was never a sense that these were people who were just passing through.  I know a few people, who are really quite nice and good parents, but seem to jump right into new relationships that include the kids - sometimes it seems like they are trying out making a family and even live together before moving on again - and I am sure those kids feel a sense of instability - that relationships of that kind are essentially impermanent. 

 

I think a major thing really is creating a predictable kind of stable life, where kids can depend on where they will be at particular times, doing certain kinds of things, creating a routine, having stable friends.  I think custody arrangements should be really cognizant of this - sometimes in an effort to split things equally, they can get too complicated for kids - I saw this with some of my school friends who were back and forth all the time.  And especially with small kids, who I think have a very strong need for predictability in their lives, both of people and places.  My sister, who is younger and so was only four when my parents split, really suffered from that lack of predictability, even though compared to some our situation was fairly stable.

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I thought that too. Until I was in a horrible marriage that would have warped my son's view of love, responsibility, and relationships. Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did, but the best thing I've ever done, particularly for him. His life would have been much less stable if I'd stayed. He would have grown up with a father neglecting him daily, and a version of marriage and adulthood that would not have served him well. Instead, he saw his father for shorter periods of time - short enough so that his dad could muster the emotional energy to be there for him. And he lived iwth me the rest of the time, with my parents. He got way more time and attention and love from them than he ever did when we lived with my ex. they gave him stability and patience and their time. He learned about routine and structure and how to be in a real family. Not the broken version my marriage had created. And later when I married his stepfather he got a man in his life who took the time to build pinewood derby cars, to take him places, to do things together, side by side. And he saw a man who went to work each day, who did his best for his family and his employer, who volunteered to help the community.

 

My son wouldn't be the young man he is today if I had stayed. 

 

I agree with what you are saying here, but I have seen more of people having divorces which seem to me to be really - unnecessary?- I guess.  They get along, in at least one case I know of continued to live together.  There seems to be a idea around that divorce, if the parents aren't being jerks, doesn't make any difference to kids, and it will in fact be better if the parents can be fulfilled.  My mom's neighbor is in a situation like that - her husband left to shack up with another woman because he felt that was what he needed to do to be really happy - it wasn't that there was anything particularly wrong with his wife or their relationship.  And there are people who engage in serial monogamy and seem to think that will have no effect either.

 

I think maybe, in trying to reassure people that divorcing won't ruin their kids for life, some people have got the idea that marriage break-ups or lack of a stable family unit will not have any effect.

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I agree with what you are saying here, but I have seen more of people having divorces which seem to me to be really - unnecessary?- I guess.  They get along, in at least one case I know of continued to live together.  There seems to be a idea around that divorce, if the parents aren't being jerks, doesn't make any difference to kids, and it will in fact be better if the parents can be fulfilled.  My mom's neighbor is in a situation like that - her husband left to shack up with another woman because he felt that was what he needed to do to be really happy - it wasn't that there was anything particularly wrong with his wife or their relationship.  And there are people who engage in serial monogamy and seem to think that will have no effect either.

 

I think maybe, in trying to reassure people that divorcing won't ruin their kids for life, some people have got the idea that marriage break-ups or lack of a stable family unit will not have any effect.

 

I can agree with this. My exBIL left for no particular reason. And I think that people need to realize that divorce isn't like breaking a contract, it's more like amputating a limb. Somtimes amputation is needed, but shouldn't be done without understanding the severity of the step one is taking, and the life long implications of it. Being divorced is hard...it's still hard 10 years later and we get along pretty well. Not as in, we are good friends well, but in the sense that we both moved on and don't try to tell each other what to do. And we always put our kid first. Visitation, etc was always flexible and always designed to suit my son, not us as parents. I don't see a lot of people who have that...visitation is just another way to control the ex spouse, and that sickens me. 

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My parents tried hard to do all the right things, and mostly they succeeded.  I did at times realize that there was serious friction, including between the extended family, and I found it very stressful.  But they both tried hard not to show evidence of it - it was harder for my mom who was the one who had been having to cope with the various issues that led to the divorce.

 

My parents were also both careful about dating - we didn't meet anyone as a romantic attachment until things were very serious, as in looking at a permanent relationship.  That counted for a lot I think, even though my dad has had three failed marriages - there was never a sense that these were people who were just passing through.  I know a few people, who are really quite nice and good parents, but seem to jump right into new relationships that include the kids - sometimes it seems like they are trying out making a family and even live together before moving on again - and I am sure those kids feel a sense of instability - that relationships of that kind are essentially impermanent. 

 

I think a major thing really is creating a predictable kind of stable life, where kids can depend on where they will be at particular times, doing certain kinds of things, creating a routine, having stable friends.  I think custody arrangements should be really cognizant of this - sometimes in an effort to split things equally, they can get too complicated for kids - I saw this with some of my school friends who were back and forth all the time.  And especially with small kids, who I think have a very strong need for predictability in their lives, both of people and places.  My sister, who is younger and so was only four when my parents split, really suffered from that lack of predictability, even though compared to some our situation was fairly stable.

 

I think the bold depends. I was fortunate not to have to stick to a preset plan and visit with each parent freely. I would have hated it. I know several other divorced families following the same path and it's working/has worked well for both children and adults. I had a cousin whose parents divorced when he was just a toddler and he was forced to follow a strict plan by his custodial parent, that wasn't equal, and it caused a ton of friction. As soon as he was old enough to stand up to that parent, he refused to go back after a visit which led to a long court battle that he won. I think there is something to be said for some children having more say/control in these things as long as there isn't abuse/neglect and parents can get along enough to make it work. 

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I think the bold depends. I was fortunate not to have to stick to a preset plan and visit with each parent freely. I would have hated it. I know several other divorced families following the same path and it's working/has worked well for both children and adults. I had a cousin whose parents divorced when he was just a toddler and he was forced to follow a strict plan by his custodial parent, that wasn't equal, and it caused a ton of friction. As soon as he was old enough to stand up to that parent, he refused to go back after a visit which led to a long court battle that he won. I think there is something to be said for some children having more say/control in these things as long as there isn't abuse/neglect and parents can get along enough to make it work. 

 

I think by stability she meant less back and forth....often now kids are two days at one house, two days at another and that can be really hard on a small child. As much as I feel both parents should be involved in the kids' lives I don't think that kind of back and forth is healthy or stable. 

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Ugh. I think you can date or remarry and NOT drag you kids into unstable stuff. At least, I like to think I did. I didn't introduce my son to any dates until I met my now DH, and I only introduced them when it was very serious. At first he was introduced as a friend, and we hung out, and only later when they got along well did we move forward. 

 

I know it is conventional wisdom to keep prospectives away from the kids until it is very serious but I do have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I can't imagine waiting until I wanted to marry someone before I introduced them to my dd. 

 

 It sounds like you had two courtship periods, one for you and your second husband, then another for your son and second husband. Maybe I'm over estimating what very serious means? As I said, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it, and I should like to, because maybe one day repartnering won't be unwise. 

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I know it is conventional wisdom to keep prospectives away from the kids until it is very serious but I do have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I can't imagine waiting until I wanted to marry someone before I introduced them to my dd. 

 

 It sounds like you had two courtship periods, one for you and your second husband, then another for your son and second husband. Maybe I'm over estimating what very serious means? As I said, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it, and I should like to, because maybe one day repartnering won't be unwise. 

 

We waited until we were both talking marriage before bringing my son into it. And then knew that it would take time for my son to get to know him, and a while for them to bond. So yes, two courtship periods sounds about right. I mean, i don't think it's good to have a stream of men in and out of their lives, so men that I dated a few times never met my son. But on the other hand, you wouldn't want to introduce your kid to your fiance and get married the next week either. Does that make sense?

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I think the bold depends. I was fortunate not to have to stick to a preset plan and visit with each parent freely. I would have hated it. I know several other divorced families following the same path and it's working/has worked well for both children and adults. I had a cousin whose parents divorced when he was just a toddler and he was forced to follow a strict plan by his custodial parent, that wasn't equal, and it caused a ton of friction. As soon as he was old enough to stand up to that parent, he refused to go back after a visit which led to a long court battle that he won. I think there is something to be said for some children having more say/control in these things as long as there isn't abuse/neglect and parents can get along enough to make it work. 

 

 

I think by stability she meant less back and forth....often now kids are two days at one house, two days at another and that can be really hard on a small child. As much as I feel both parents should be involved in the kids' lives I don't think that kind of back and forth is healthy or stable. 

 

 

Yes, this is more or less what I meant.  Kids need to be able to have a place and a routine.  With really young kids, I think there can even be a need to have one main caregiver - infants do not understand their primary attachment popping out of their lives.  I think that sometimes this can be true even when the child doesn't realize it, and might prefer some other arrangement, which I realize makes things very tricky.

 

I did have a friend in middle and high school whose parents lived close together, and the kids just went back and forth depending on what they wanted to do.  But even then, she felt later that it wasn't really ideal - they got to feel shunted around, or as if sometimes they were inconvenient, though of course her parents never said that to the kids.

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Let your kids be angry at you.  You ARE hurting them.  It IS your fault (even if the situation is one in which you feel it necessary to leave, such as abuse, it is still going to hurt the kids).  They are going to be angry (even if they hide it).  They have a right.  You need to let them.

 

The parents needs to recognize what they are doing and own it.  If they are going to blow up their children's family, they need to take responsibility. 

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I know it is conventional wisdom to keep prospectives away from the kids until it is very serious but I do have a hard time wrapping my head around it. I can't imagine waiting until I wanted to marry someone before I introduced them to my dd. 

 

 It sounds like you had two courtship periods, one for you and your second husband, then another for your son and second husband. Maybe I'm over estimating what very serious means? As I said, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it, and I should like to, because maybe one day repartnering won't be unwise. 

I think one thing that this can mean is not introducing the person initially as a love interest, but more as a family friend.  So - restricting affection in front of the kids, not having overnight visits in the house, maybe being quiet about dates and such.  Not treating the person as a potential parent, I guess.

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Truthfully, I think that in most cases divorce is very selfish.

This was pretty much my first thought. I would want my kids to have a 'fuller' happier marriage than I do. But I would do a lot to protect them from divorce. I can see that sticking it out in an imperfect marriage and accepting that, unfortunately, our individual happiness is not going to come from each other has given them a happier childhood than I had. Much, much happier. Off the charts happier, in fact - and again, my parents divorced relatively 'politely'. It's important though that dh also grew up with a step-father (his parents divorced when he was a baby so he doesn't have feelings about the divorce per se) and feels the same way I do: without discussing it we're both clear that the children's well-being is our primary responsibility and we have to get our own lives together on our own time and 'pretend to be grown-ups' even when we don't feel like it.

 

This shifts a little away from what the OP asked, but in another sense is fundamental. I wish my parents had known that adults could live together civilly even when not 'in love' etc. But that takes TWO emotionally mature adults, and there was only one 'grown-up' in my parents marriage, I'm afraid.

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We waited until we were both talking marriage before bringing my son into it. And then knew that it would take time for my son to get to know him, and a while for them to bond. So yes, two courtship periods sounds about right. I mean, i don't think it's good to have a stream of men in and out of their lives, so men that I dated a few times never met my son. But on the other hand, you wouldn't want to introduce your kid to your fiance and get married the next week either. Does that make sense?

 

Sure it makes sense. It just doesn't feel comfortable to me for there not to be a significant amount of overlap because I don't feel like I should or even could be wanting to marry anyone my dd (since she's a minor) doesn't also want as a stepfather. I don't think I would feel I was able to pay proper attention if I waited until we were talking marriage, and that would be a lot harder to walk away from. I've been most affected by stories of how someone's second spouse hates their kids or some of the kids hate the second spouse. I also find myself keeping in mind that whatever conventional wisdom states in divorce situations, it is almost certainly the opposite of what is workable in mine. Doing the "right" things has led to some very nasty consequences here.

Edited by Rosie_0801
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It took me a long time to learn how to be a wife after getting married and to not take treat my dh badly because of experiences I had growing up.  I am still insecure and deal with a sense of abandonment at times and it has been close to 30 years since my parents divorced.

 

Me too. :grouphug: I hate it, because I married a good man, but it is so hard not to lay the filter of your childhood over your present (you are not worthy of sticking around for...) 

 

You're right, divorce does suck.

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I've often wondered how my sister and I would have been different if my folks had stayed together.

 

It's really hard to say to be honest.  My dad's issues were still there - we just didn't see them as odd because what you grow up with is by default "normal" in your eyes.

 

Prior to the divorce we hated their fights.  We tended to hide, then split up to console our parents after they finished.  The reason we split up with the divorce is merely due it being the way we split up after that fight.  I went to my dad because "I" started that fight by being nasty to my mom and he stood up for me... the police came... then my sister and mom left.  She kept siding with mom.  I kept siding with dad.

 

My mom was actually the better parent.  My dad was not.  Yet I "made it" and my sister did not.  Why? (I've settled upon having my escapes - my sister went to a new house.  I had what was familiar and I liked it.  Almost everything changed in her life.)  Would it have been different if the divorce hadn't happened or had happened when we were older?  (I was 11, she was 12.)  When I ponder those horrid years of my life, my brain often wonders - esp if her life could have ended up better.

 

From my mom's perspective, I totally understand why she left and support it.  But I'll admit I just don't know what it did to us kids compared to staying in a bad marriage.  Regardless, it set us up for some really horrid years.

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