Mom and dad split up
Advice for divorcing parents from the child of two divorces.
These days most children will know at least one child whose parents are divorced. But what does a child feel about his parents’ divorce? I know for me it was a relief. My parents got separated and divorced twice.

The first time they separated I was 7 years old. I don’t remember too much about that time. What stands out in my mind was the excitement of moving in with my grandparents who lived next to a cemetery. I also distinctly remember my father throwing me on the bed after I had tried to call for help while he was beating my mother.

They got married again when I was 10 years old. It started out quite well, but soon we were back to the old habits. I remember getting our clothes ready for us to leave one night to stay over at a friend’s house. My father smashing the windscreen with a beer bottle as we were pulling out of the garage.

All of this might make you think that my father was the Bad Guy. He wasn’t. He was and still is a loving father. He has been in several relationships since and has never repeated the behaviour that characterised his marriage with my mother. Nor is my mother the Bad Guy. Although she has some medical issues that were never addressed, she is also a loving person who did absolutely everything for her kids.

Parents are always told to explain to the kids that nothing they did caused the break-up. Funny enough, I never thought I was to blame. I also knew that both my father and my mother loved me absolutely. In my opinion some people are just not able to live together. The best thing they could have done for us was to get divorced.

However both of them made some mistakes after the divorce that I don’t think any parent should do to their kids.

Mistakes not to make when divorcing
  • Never use your kids to hurt the other partner. That includes not bad mouthing your ex in your children’s presence, or restricting access to your child. Don’t let your hurt and anger get between your child and his/her other parent.
  • Never use your kids as a go between when dealing with issues. Don’t ask your kids to phone the other parent and ask for maintenance money. What you are doing is placing unfair pressure on your child’s relationship with the other parent. Also don’t use your child as the only form of communication. Most things should be discussed directly between ex partners.
  • Never let your issues with your ex, influence they way you treat your kids. No matter how much your child reminds you of your ex, he/she is not your ex partner. Don’t take out your anger and bitterness on your child.
  • Money doesn’t buy love. This is particularly true for the parent who doesn’t live with the child. Be careful not to spoil with money and gifts instead of attention. Your child needs to know that you are still interested in their life. Make the extra effort and go to school plays or extra mural activities. You would have done it if they were still living with you. So do it even if they are not.
At the end of the day being a ‘divorced family’ is hard work. Every person involved needs to put in extra effort to keep things on an even keel. While kids are small it comes down to the parents, but once they grow up, they should also start accepting responsibility for their actions. Encourage your kids to contact the other parent regularly. And keep the lines of communication open.

What are your golden rules for making divorce easier?

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