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Your marriage is over.  Your children will always be the love of your life, despite being the children of a love gone bad.  Ya.  It's not easy to think of it that way, but it's a reality divorced parents are forced to accept.  

Family disconnections are temporary

You want your children to feel protected and guarded from the pain from divorce.  At times it will seem like your whole world is turned upside down and you may feel distant from everyone and everything that's important to you, including your children.  While it may be one of the most challenging events you will have endured as a parent, it will get easier.  Your family will eventually stabilize, as you do.   You will start to develop a new functional normal, bringing you and your children closer, once again. 

Perfect parents need not apply

Your children will either find strength from what they have endured or feel victimized by the loss of their current family dynamic.  The best way to ensure they gain strength is to demonstrate your own perseverance, love and dedication in the face of divorce adversity.  They need the security in knowing that despite the difficult decision for their parents to divorce, the decision will provide a better opportunity for their family's happiness.   This doesn't mean your new job as a single parent requires you to be perfect.

Regardless if parenting within a nuclear family (one where both parents are part of the same household) or not, parenting is complicated and we're all going to make mistakes.  

But when going through a divorce - stress, anxiety, conflict and depression can cause any parent to feel overwhelmed and continuously distracted.  You won't always be the pillar of strength and hope. 

Know that it's totally okay. You don't have anything to prove, even to your children, while going through such a difficult experience.  Also, it provides your children awareness that life is not always easy and that the end of a marriage can be a humbling experience. 

It's important to learn to forgive yourself and move forward with your divorce recovery.

Healthy expression of emotions is okay.

While one goal as a parent is to provide your children a positive role model, it's best not to completely shelter them from the pain you may be experiencing.  They too will have numerous emotions they may need to express.  If you demonstrate a healthy expression of your feelings, they too will learn how to express and cope with theirs. 

Who's healthy when going through a divorce anyway?

Since divorce can be considered an unhealthy time for a family, it isn't always easy to demonstrate your feelings in a good way.  Your children may struggle too.  Sometimes, the emotional roller coaster doesn't truly hit until after the divorce is complete.

Your children will not understand the heartbreak and magnitude of pain you will be experiencing, so while you shouldn't shelter them from your feelings, don't look to your children for individual support for your side of the breakup, argue with or negatively discuss their other parent with them around.  It may cause your children to experience feelings of guilt, added grief and other problems (anxiety, depression, withdraw, etc.) related to the divorce.     

If you feel you or your children are stuck or unable to get through certain aspects of your divorce and change in family dynamics, it may be time to seek help from a trained professional. Family counseling may be very beneficial, even in a short duration, before, during or after divorce. 

Divorce can disconnect your life 

How can you reconnect to the land of the living?

The changes associated with divorce are so magnificent, it can seem to disconnect you from the important things in your life.  You're not just losing a spouse.  You're losing your identity as a married person.  You're losing half your assets and household income.  Worst is the lost time with your children when they're with their other parent.  Your whole life seems to get disconnected.  

Know that, when you're ready, you'll naturally find reconnections to the parts of your life that you most value.  It'll be different, in some ways more difficult and in others better and with more potential for happiness.

Knot Analogy

Look at it this way: Two villages, separated by water, form a union and build a bridge bringing their peoples together.  A war ensues and the bridge is destroyed and at first, times for both sides are very difficult.  But, peace falls over the land and while the union never redevelops, ships are built from what remains of the former bridge.  Yes, the two sides are never reconnected by a bridge, but both sides grow stronger again, despite the disconnection.

You aren't rebuilding the same life, your building a new one, much different from the last.  It may be so different that it is hard to conceptualize until you actually begin to live it.  But it has the potential to be happier and more successful.   Perhaps it starts with the will to provide the best life for your children through excellent co-parenting or opportunities for self-improvement and better relationships.

You can be an effective person and phenomenal co-parent, in charge of your own ship.   The loss your family experiences develops an opportunity for your children to witness strength and courage each parent has to rebuild his/her life in a new way, but with similar goals.   Ideally, they have what they need when both ships stay strong. 

To do so, each parent must be wholly focused on his/her parenting skills and ability to productively share expectations for the children with the other co-parent. 

You can not lead both ships. Your life as a married couple is over; the bridge is gone.  Now the strength of what lasted from that lost bridge will sail the waters forever. 

Those villages provide each ship safe harbor (home), along with adequate provisions.  Regardless who earned the majority of the money, spent more time with the kids or managed the family, household or bills - both you and your former spouse have rightful passage to both sides.  Don't let anything or anyone restrict your access to the opportunities for which you are both deserving.  These opportunities include good health, happiness, potential for earnings and social success. You should find your path between these villages to achieve your desired lifestyle, healthy living habits and quality, instead of quantity of time, as a parent.    

Your ship is you and your family.  Your children are part of those ships, forever sailing, changing, growing and keeping your legacy alive.  And while you may eventually form new relationships over the course of your lifetime, welcoming others into you and your family's life, your children will always be your most important relationship!  



RECIPE IMAGES COURTESY PIXABAY

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