Letting Go of Guilt as a Divorced Parent
All parents feel guilt and a sense of failure when they decide they need to separate or have decided to get a divorce. They planned on their marriage lasting forever and now they have accumulated a house, belongings, cars and probably have had a few children. Children don’t like to see their parents divorce. They become very upset and don’t understand why if they have never experienced their parents fighting. They probably have many questions and both parents will have to sit down and talk to them. They might blame themselves for this problem in their family as well. Some children might think it’s for the best if they are older and they see their parents fighting all the time. Parents are going to feel guilty when they finally make the decision to separate or divorce. They realize their life is going to change and so are many of the household routines. Many parents are scared as well because one might not want the divorce and then there are huge custody battles on top of splitting up their assets and belongings. Divorce can be messy. Time heals all wounds and there is sunshine at the end of the dark tunnel. Eventually, both parents will be able to let go of the guilt, once they realize they have succeeded as a single parent.
Many parents are weighed down by the guilt they feel because their children are now living two lives. Kids end up being driven back and forth between two different homes, sometimes two different families, two different sets of rules and it might seem like two different worlds to them. The issue is not to let the guilt consume you and control how you parent. Guilt comes through in different ways but there are three ways that guilt seems to take over parenting.
The first one is guilt can cause parents to become way too controlling and strict. When a family splits into two, this is a painful and sometimes terrible experience. Your life seems out of control and everything is chaotic. Parents start to feel like they are losing control and this also happens when the kids only stay with one of their parents because they feel guilty as well. The parent then starts to become too controlling because they feel life will become more stable instead of dysfunctional.
Some parents can go to extremes when they attempt to control their children when they are spending time with the other parent. Don’t blame the other parent in front of your child by yelling about petty issues. If you find yourself taking out your frustrations on your kids, try and stop or get some help.
The second issue is guilt can cause parents to be too nice and let their kids control them. If you find your not following routines or setting boundaries for your kids and letting them act out, then stop this behavior and set some consequences. Your kids still can’t act out in public or in school where many kids let their insecurities out. This often becomes a sad situation when parents are overwhelmed with guilt and afraid to discipline their kids. Parents worry if they discipline their kids, they won’t love them and complain to the other parent about your behavior. Then parents worry they will lose their child to the other parent.
This can be a very big struggle for parents, especially if you are the parent without custody or have every other weekend custody. Parents feel guilty because of the time they have is already limited and important to them. Parents want to enjoy their children not yell and discipline them. They just want to have a happy weekend with their children.
The third issue is guilt can cause parents to compete and not work together. This actually happens when parents start trying to outdo each other so they can win the kids over to their side. This way they can look like the important parent. This type of guilt from parents is not good because the guilt creates spite, manipulation, and negative behavior. This is the worst of the three issues that are being discussed. The guilt can also present itself into other forms of negativity.
For example, mom buys the child a new laptop and dad outdoes her with a ps4 gaming system. Dad decides to take the kids on a vacation and the kids tell her when they get back and this is when the problems start because mom is going to outdo dad again.
Some parents decide to withhold information in regards to school events, conferences or medical appointments. Parents should both tell their children’s school when they are separating so they are both on the mailing list and the emergency list. This can create havoc because the other parent feels left out because they didn’t know about the events and the kids wonder where they are. The children then begin to feel that mom or dad doesn’t care enough about their activities and the parent that does attend looks like a saint to the rest of the world. Parents only hurt their children when they resort to this type of behavior. Both parents love their children and try and be mature adults when you both are experiencing negative feelings about each other.
Parents don’t look past the feelings of hurt they have at times like this, but it’s all about them at the moment feeling like a failure, alone and if one has another friend before the other one, this causes more problems for parents. They are already going through a divorce and they are worried they will lose control and someone else will step in and take their place.
The best thing to do is to pinpoint what is bothering you and why you are behaving the way that you are. Try some outside help for support, counseling helps parents learn how to use coping skills to learn to control their behavior. There are all kinds of information available to parents online, at the library, at the job center they offer classes for tips.
Remember that your kids need to feel safe, loved and nurtured, no matter if their family is no longer together. Take time to put your energy into your children and not yourself and your soon to be ex-spouse. Remember what is the right thing to do and don’t try and one-up each other to prove who the better parent is.
Whether you lose a spouse to death or divorce, this is out of your hands and you can’t control the outcome so let go of what you can’t control and just try and find the right things to do to make great memories. You can still have a home without your other half and continue to do the things with your children that you did before. Take them on picnics at the park, play some backyard games, go camping and make some s’mores. You can all snuggle and watch a movie on a cold winter night. Storms are fun to watch and really it’s the small things in life that count. Your children just want your attention and love not expensive gifts constantly. Make sure your around when your kids are home so you can be there for them, this means so much to children. Remember it only takes a special moment to create a memory.