Dear Mom and Dad,
The operative word here Mom and Dad is My events. You are a guest here and I ask you to act accordingly. My events include but are not limited to:
1. My teacher's conferences.
2. My athletic events.
3. My musical recitals.
4. My birthday party.
5. My school plays.
6. My school graduations
7. My Prom
8. My going to college
9. My wedding
So here are some guidelines which I ask if you can't follow, best you postpone coming until you can.
Your Divorce, My Event
My life outside my family's divorce is very important to me. It is also what keeps me sane in this world called "figuring out two houses by myself." When I play soccer, I only want to focus on playing soccer. When parents come to watch our games, I don't want the two of you to stand out. I also prefer you don't rush to bring your latest "squeeze" and I won't be able to tell you my preference. When you both have new people in your life, Dad I don't want you to call Mom's BF a Pr$%^& and Mom I don't want you to call Dad's GF a Wh)(&^*. Yes this has happened to other kids way too often. When you use my events to vent your anger at each other, I suffer the most. I am embarrassed, ashamed, and I let my team down because I can't focus on the game. Keep your divorce out of my events! Don't use my events for your anger.
Be concerned about me!
When you come to my teacher's conference remember why you are there. Hopefully, you are there to see how I am adjusting to being the child of a divorce. My teacher's conference is not a place for you to compete for who is being the better parent. Ask my teacher how she thinks I am doing and what you can do to be a better parent for Me! My teacher's conference is an opportunity for you to find out about my welfare. It is an opportunity for you both to make my life easier by listening to my teacher's recommendations.
My school graduations, music recitals, school plays and even my birthday are my events. Once again you are a guest! Ask me if I have requests of you. Do I care if you sit together or apart? Let me know who is bringing me and who is taking me home. If you have feelings about any of the logistics, work it out with your therapist. I understand if I have one or two contentious parents you will always sit away from each other. Don't scream or yell at each other it is my event. Don't try to make me feel guilty if I hug both of you and am nice to both of you. Don't tell me I can't say Hi to my other parent or even try to keep me from greeting my other parent. Yes, this also happens all too often to kids. Once again remember this is an important event for me. Remember it is not about either of you!
The more you do your inner work and move on from the divorce the better things will be for me. I don't want to be your confidant. I have to figure out love after going through the trauma of my parent's divorce. I cannot figure out your love life so zip it. When I go off to college, leave home, get married and/or all the normal things people do, I expect you both to be focused on what I need not each other and your unfinished business. When I get married and I have to figure out how to handle two families to my finance's one please understand. Divorce doesn't have to be the end of the world. Divorce doesn't have to be the most traumatic event of a child's life. When parents' divorce as adults, get an adequate support system, reinvent themselves, and move on we all benefit. So to recap:
1. Remember it is my event and you are a guest.
2. Remember no anger allowed at my event.
3. Remember no unfinished business at my event.
4. Remember I will be greeting and hugging both of you.
5. Remember ask about how I am doing if appropriate.
6. Remember I want all of us to happily land on our feet.
It's pretty simple really. My events are important to me and for me. Please use them to be the great parent I know you can be.
"Let's raise children who won't have to recover from their childhoods." ~Pam Leo
Dr. Anne Brown PhD, RN of Sausalito, California, is a psychotherapist, speaker, coach, and the author of Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No . Anne's approach is especially applicable to people affected by divorce. Backbone Power is a no nonsense self help guide to making decisions while having backbone and integrity in all your choices, short term and long term. In addition to helping the divorce community, Anne has over twenty years experience as the trusted advocate and advisor to influential corporate leaders, trial attorneys, athletes, leaders, physicians and others seeking actionable guidance. Brown is a graduate of the University of Virginia, BS in Nursing; Boston University, MS in Psychiatric-Mental Health in Nursing; and International University, PhD in Addiction Studies. In 1997 Brown also reached a personal goal of obtaining her Black Belt in Soo Bahk Do. You can contact Dr. Anne Brown through her website: www.BackbonePower.com .