Important Advice for Suddenly Single Parents

By Leslie Campos of Well Parents

Although the divorce rate has been falling slightly in recent years, Crisp and Company still note that 42% of marriages in England and Wales will be legally dissolved. Divorce has a domino effect. Not only does it mean that you and your spouse are separating, it also means that the normal functioning of your family is disrupted. It has a feeling of finality, yet, you’ve got to find a way to move forward.

Navigate the Emotional Fallout from Divorce

You’ve divided your possessions, or as Motley Fool explains, you’ve depleted your bank account. You’ve split your friends and now you have to share your kids in your newly separate lives. You need a support network and you need time to yourself. Your friends will want to take you drinking, and while it’s good to vent and let off steam, don’t let it become a pattern. People will come out of the woodwork to tell you they never liked your spouse anyway. Do your best to try to remain positive and not to engage in any negativity. You did have a relationship with this person, someone who is still a parent to your children, and if you’re going to navigate parenthood moving forward, you’ll need to treat each other with respect.  

You should prioritize making your new environment as stress-free as possible. Reduce clutter to open up your living space (and simplify your life), and spruce up your home with some fresh greenery or flowers.

Consider a Therapist

Coupled with the emotional tensions of divorce, if you find yourself in depressive patterns, you should not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Therapy is an option, and there are plenty of grief and divorce support groups. Seeking these out won’t make you seem weak – in fact, it will show your children that all emotions are valid and should be taken seriously.  You might even find a few new friends, and a much wider support group out of it.  Find things you enjoy and make time for them. Engage in self-care: exercise, eat right, and try to get good sleep. It may be a good time to throw yourself into your work for a while, and then when it’s time for a vacation, go somewhere with the kids, your first one with just you and them.

Watch for Warning Signs from the Kids

As Healthline notes, children of divorce can suffer trauma. Everything in their world has been upended. You may know that things will be better in the long run because they won’t have to see you fight and you’ve decided not to stay together just for them, which is a very difficult decision, but probably also the healthier one.

Kids can start to do poorly in school, lose sleep, or lash out. They may be forced to give some things up because of finances or the difficulty of being the only one trying to coordinate everything. You may need to go out to dinner more but have less money to be able to do it. Taking one kid to soccer practice and another to a dance recital can be a lot harder to coordinate. Moreover, the kids are going to be reminded at every turn that things really are different.

As much as you feel guilty about what you’ve done to your kids, they can also internalize feelings of guilt and think they’re the ones to blame for your separation. It may sound strange, but it’s really common. Check in often with your kids, establish an honest and loving back-and-forth, and even if you don’t think they need it, have them see their own therapist at least for a little while.

A New Beginning

Divorce is never easy – for anyone involved. Unfortunately, it’s way too common. In time you’ll establish a new normal, and with open lines of communication with your ex, a commitment to putting the kids first, and mutual respect, you can work on rebuilding yourself. Though your friends may suggest differently, and while you may feel ready for a new relationship, don’t rush into anything and take some time before dating seriously. You may not be thinking clearly for a while, and it will be particularly awkward if you meet someone too soon and make the mistake of introducing them to your kids. As odd as it sounds, take stock in this crazy time in your life. You won’t enjoy most days, but you can learn from the divorce to become a better parent.

For more helpful advice on parenting and raising strong, healthy children, connect with The Hidden Opponent.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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