Do You Love Your Kids more than You Hate Your Ex?
Written by Shelley Stiles.
During and after our divorce, we all have a strong desire to protect our children and ensure they are safe and sound. Most of us are familiar with the well-known strategies for achieving that goal but what it all comes down to is the question: Do you love your kids more than you hate your ex? If ‘hate’ is too strong a word, then replace it with your primary emotion as it pertains to your ex…resentment, anger, bitterness, blame and so on.
If we cannot get along with our ex in some sort of civil fashion, not only do we suffer but so do our kids. If we harbor ill feelings towards our ex it will naturally affect how we deal with one another. Being angry causes us to want to make our former partner’s miserable in some way and there are all sorts of means to achieve that end: we can make custody arrangements difficult, we can use the kids as messengers because we refuse to communicate directly with our ex, we can drag our ex into court for any little infraction, we can be emotionally reactive, we can throw blame around, we can share information about our ex and their life that has no place in our children’s world, we can remain bitter and angry…all of which has a direct impact on our children.
If you notice, all of the above behaviors stem from the fact that we have not let go of the pain of our divorce and remain stuck in negative emotions. All of these negative emotions serve as a role model for our children. Is that the message and behavior you want to impart to them? I doubt it.
Recently, I sent my two children, ages 20 and 16, an apology for anything that I might have done when I was going through a highly emotional stage right after my separation. I want to share with you the following as it is so powerful:
Sometimes when we learn from our experiences we need to go back and clean up any mess we may have made. There were many things that I did in the past five years that were not in the best interests of you kids as far as the relationship between me and your Dad goes. I shared too much information that was not for your ears and made too many decisions from a place of hurt and resentment. For that, I am sorry. I was emotionally reactive all too often and let my emotions take over my brain.
I have learned a great deal and am striving to be a better person. I have expressed to Dad that we must always do what’s best for you guys no matter how we feel. I just wanted you to know that.
Here are their responses:
From my 20 year old son:
We are all have our regrets, but I think what you and Dad have done together for me and Sylvie is pretty amazing. Most people would be pretty astonished at how you two have worked together to make our lives better, and I thank you and love you for that. One love mon
From my daughter:
I read your letter, do not worry about anything. I love you and I know you love me and that’s all that matters.
Put aside your hurt, pain and resentment so you can be free of that heavy burden. Do what you can to accomplish this goal because it is how you choose to handle this divorce that will the greatest impact on your kids and their future.