Better Not Bitter:
Parenting After Divorce..
Be A She-ro, Hero or Zero
It’s done. You’ve separated for the last time and you’re not going back. You can’t stand one another. The decision has been made and moving toward divorce is now the only option. But you have these kids together. One of the first things you have to deal with post-separation is also one of the most difficult: How will you co-parent?
Lately there have been a lot of celebrity parents in the news and their challenges in this area (Usher Raymond/Tameka Foster and Eddie Cibrian/Brandi Glanville, most recently). Even more sad perhaps, is the fact that almost everyone knows someone personally who has had to deal with this issue.
I remember when my ex and I finally separated and he came over to see the boys for the first time. I handled it horribly. Raised all kinds of issues that should have been addressed privately when the children weren’t around. I made the situation tense, difficult and unpleasant. And to be honest with you, that was my intent. I was so hurt that I wanted everyone else to be hurt, too.
So I get exactly what those celebrities feel and I am glad that I didn’t have all of America passing judgment on my decisions during that time. But sooner or later – and hopefully sooner, you realize how damaging that behavior is for your children. My older son explained how my words, even the tone of my voice when speaking to his father made him feel. I decided then and there to try to be a better mom.
Later, when I was doing research for my book, “Living Happier After: 20 Women Talk About Life After Divorce,” I surveyed and interviewed a lot of women. When discussing the subject of co-parenting after divorce one of them told me, “At some point the realization hits you that you were the one who picked him. You made the decision to start a family with this person, who at one time was the center of your life.” Those wise words continue to come to mind, even now years later when I hear about other people trying to determine how to successfully co-parent.
I get that it’s hard to be the custodial parent. Some people are lucky and/or blessed. Their former spouses are excellent co-parents and they don’t have any of these issues to deal with. But for the rest of us out here trying to raise our children with the lowest level of dysfunction possible, I have a few suggestions from the wise and happy women who are living happier after divorce.