I know, nobody explicitly desires to be a divorced parent. We’re all familiar with the hardships, frustrations, and inconveniences that result from a divorce between adults who share children.
However, for those embarking on the process, I want you to recognize that there are also benefits to this type of family structure. If you’re feeling guilty and glum about your situation, read on for some hope and inspiration…
1) Your House. Your Rules. As the Supreme Parental Figure in your home, you can set whatever rules you’d like (within reason, of course) without having to compromise with your parenting partner about what’s important to you. Bedtime at 8 pm? Set it! Homework before playtime? Schedule it! No electronics at the dinner table? Ban them! No violent video games? You get the idea…
2) New Relationships With Your Children. Following a separation, parents are forced to step out of the traditional roles they played when they lived under the same roof. As a result, you can expect relationships with your children to shift as your involvement with them changes. Perhaps, in this new chapter, you’ll be more than just the disciplinarian. Or maybe now you’ll be the one setting boundaries, and you can communicate the importance of the rules you set. Consider the opportunities for connection and deepening your relationship.
Bonus– in combining #1 and #2, you also have to ability to create fun and meaningful new traditions for your family.
3) Being Human. Now that you’re divorced, there’s less pressure to present the image of a Picture-Perfect Family. You can breathe a sigh of relief that you no longer have to keep up with a façade and admit that you’re a human being with hardships and flaws. Go ahead and embrace all the beautiful messiness of your life. Ask for and accept help when you need it. And offer compassion to others in a similar situation. We’re all doing the best we can.
4) Teachable Moments. Because you’re a human being who’s gone through a divorce, you’ll receive plenty of opportunities to create an example of your experience. Use them! You’ll find your journey provides many moments to teach your children about cooperation, communication, respect, teamwork, and resilience.
5) Alone Time. Assuming your children regularly spend time with their other parent, this affords you a much-needed break at scheduled intervals. This is a chance for you to relax, recharge and invest in yourself. Learn new skills, go on adventures, or simply schedule some quality time with your friends. Use your alone time to your advantage.
I know it’s hard to be a divorced parent, but it’s not all bad. Be good to yourself, take things one day at a time, and focus on the benefits as you step ahead. You might find that you (and your children) can benefit from this new kind of normal.
Tara Eisenhard is a divorce coach who helps struggling singles overcome shame and frustration so they can find peace and create a life they love. She is also the author of the novel “The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes.” Other articles by Tara can be found on her blog, Relative Evolutions.