So many kids, I don't know what to do.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to be Divorced

Ok. It is probably time to explain something about my family. Here goes.

Obviously there is a gap in age between my third and fourth kids.....the reason for this is......(drum roll)..........Two baby daddy.

That's right.
I was married.
I had three kids.
I got divorced.
I was single
I got married again.
I had two more kids.

There. Now you are all caught up. Due to a number of reasons I won't go into here my ex husband and I failed at marriage. We started splitting up when my oldest daughter was three months old. Things were rough for a while, but nowadays we get along 90% of the time and the rest of the time we fake it. He lives close by and the G3 (my three oldest) get to see him often, probably the main reason my kids remain happy and well adjusted even in the midst of a divorce.

I was on the phone with my best Oregon friend about a year after I got divorced griping and complaining about my ex. She said, "That's terrible. You should divorce him." She was no doubt tired of hearing my complaints and in her wisdom figured it wasn't doing me any good either. My reply was, "I did!" Which helped me remember- We were divorced. If he was late or hadn't brushed my daughter's hair - it really wasn't something I needed to throw a fit about. A great single parent program at church reinforced this. He wasn't going to change anything he didn't change while we were married. He took care of the kids adequately and that was all I needed to worry about. Everything else I needed to just let go.

I realize that my ex is probably better than some exes. He is employed and pays child support reliably. He gets the children when it is his weekend without fail. So I am certainly not trying to gloss over the very real problems of absentee parents, financial shortcomings, or abuse. It's just that I can only explain what I have experienced.

So, here is my (completely unsolicited) advice on "How to be Divorced".

1. Consolidate as many birthdays and holidays as possible.
2. Be flexible. If my ex wants to take the kids camping with friends, or I need them for an event, we trade. Make it easy for them to have fun with your ex spouse. Not hard.
3. Communicate. But not too much. If my ex knows about the upcoming band concert, or open house, then I have done my job, I don't also need to nag him about his attendance.
4. Let the kids learn about your ex spouse's short comings on their own. Just like they learn about yours.
5. Realize the organization between two households is hard. Sometimes things are going to have to be retrieved or dropped off at the other house. It is inevitable.
6. Do not ask your kids to relay messages. This applies to ALL messages, not just sticky subjects.
7. Realize that if you agreed on everything - you would probably still be married. My ex and I don't agree on the importance of learning a musical instrument, or how to handle my son's ADD. We definitely don't agree on fashion, food, or acceptable t.v. programs. If your kids are old enough teach them to do on their own what is truly important to you and learn to deal with the rest.
8. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I have learned the hard way that if my ex is refusing to pay for something it isn't because he is being selfish....it is because he is broke. If he is not being flexible about the schedule it is because he truly didn't realize I needed help.
9. Put your kids first. Period. That is what all this advice boils down to.
10. And if you are wondering how to implement all these changes without being run over by your ex, try this, Go First. Take the initiative to be agreeable and see what happens. Other than choking on your pride that is. Being divorced is stressful. There is no reason to add drama to it because of pride. Go first. Be nice for a month or so and see what happens and go from there.

Two disclaimers.
1. I currently have a wonderful second (and last) husband who from time to time has had to tell me I am being unreasonable about some topic. He reminds me occasionally about fairness and flexibility. He also does a great step dad balancing act, but that is a whole 'nother post.
2. I do not always adhere to these rules. I forget. I am not perfect. Now you know.

What do you think? If you are a successful half of a divorced couple, tell me what I left out.

3 comments:

  1. I am divorced, too. I believe in the rule of always put the kids first. This should be true at all times. I get along well with their father and it makes them much more well adjusted. I never talk down about their father in front of them. No matter what- he is their dad and they love him. I don't ever want them to feel bad for that! I also think it is true that they will find out the shortcomings of their dad and myself on their own. They are smart kids-they will figure it out. :) Great advice!
    Amanda

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  2. D. Heather's brotherApril 21, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    First, I certainly do not need divorce advice from you. I think I have got that down, since I have 100% more divorce experience than you do. :) Second, you know that I have bookmarked and saved in every possible way this post, since it says, in your own words, that you are not perfect. I will use this on you at a later date, you can be sure. (Hey, its your own fault, you keep bugging me to read your blog.)

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  3. Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am now a new follower. I'm thinking that I need to print out these rules and mail them to my ex, especially the part about not having the kids be your messenger. There's nothing I hate worse than the kids being put in the middle of divorce drama.

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I always like to know someone is listening!