Co-parenting can be very challenging, but with flexibility, love, intention and work. It is possible.
I want to share with you today a letter from a child of divorce that I came across many years ago and have since shared with many clients and friends transitioning through divorce.
I want to share it here with you today.
This is a letter from a child of divorce.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I need you to know that you chose to end your marriage, not me.
I know this is the right decision for me in the long run, but it doesn't feel like it right now.
I'm going to have lots of big feelings about the divorce, and I need you to help me make sense of how I feel.
Sometimes I might not tell you that I feel sad about the change in our family, or that I feel angry about the things that you say to each other or that I feel really confused about why this is all happening, but know that this stuff is going through my head.
I don't need you to distract me away from my hard feelings, but I need you to sit beside me as I let this grief move through me.
My life can be better after divorce with your help. But I need you to be patient and to be able to hear all of my questions and big emotions without taking it personally.
I watch what you do, how you treat my other parent, and how you manage stress more than what you see. Please model to me healthy ways to manage stress and what honest relationships look like so that I can learn how to navigate my world.
If you've hurt me in some way, apologize to me.
It is never too late to make a repair in a relationship.
Mom and Dad, the relationship you have with each other will become the lens I use to view all relationships.
I have the right to learn that people can be respectful and kind. Even though they don't love each other anymore.
Never put me in the middle, make me choose sides, or use me to deliver adult messages back and forth. I'm just a kid and this is not my job.
Even though my words and actions may look like I'm pushing you away sometimes.
I will never stop loving you. Deep in my heart. I want both my mom and dad in my life.
If one of you fades out of my world, it will leave a scar on me for how worthy I think I am and what I think I deserve for my whole life.
Make me know that I am your priority. Find a way to get busy in my world.
How you fill me up or not impacts my self-esteem and confidence.
Mom and Dad, please take care of yourselves. Find a safe place to talk about your own big feelings without the words accidentally falling on my ears.
I'm a child, and it's never my place to help you with big people problems.
Instead, I need you to be the unconditional shoulders I bring my big emotions to at any age, at any time.
It doesn't feel safe for me if you become my friend.
I actually need you to be my parents.
Don't be scared to set limits and discipline me if I mess up, because this is what helps my world feel safe and secure.
I wish for you to heal too, so you can show me how to live an authentic life where you're truly happy. Your health and happiness is the best gift you can give to me so I can thrive after divorce.
I want to be proud of my family, and I deserve to look forward to a happy future.
Child of divorce.
As you navigate through the challenging waters of divorce, it is essential to keep in mind that your children are grieving too, just as deeply as you are. Recognizing their emotional journey is crucial, for they may not express their feelings as openly as adults do. As a parent, it falls upon you to provide the guidance and support they need during this transformative period. You are their rock, and they will look to you for stability and understanding amidst the turmoil.
Your children's hearts are tender and vulnerable, and they might not always comprehend the complexities of the situation. It's natural for them to experience a mix of emotions, from sadness and confusion to anger and fear. Be patient and compassionate, creating an environment where they feel safe to express themselves without judgment or guilt.
Leading them through this difficult transition requires your unwavering presence and reassurance. Offer them a listening ear, encouraging open communication. Remember, your actions speak louder than words. Model healthy coping mechanisms and respectful communication, for they are watching you closely, learning how to navigate their own emotions and relationships.
One of the most important lessons I hope you take from this letter, is to avoid placing them in the middle or burdening them with adult issues. Shield them from any conflict that may arise between you and your former partner. By shielding them from adult problems, you gift them the space to be children, allowing their innocence and wonder to flourish. This is such a crucial part of this process and cannot be overstated.
Embrace the healing process together, acknowledging that it's okay to seek help from therapists or coaches if needed. Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to your commitment to providing the best environment for your children's emotional growth.
In essence, embrace this time as an opportunity to strengthen your bond with your children. By leading with love, understanding, and patience, you can help them emerge from this divorce transition with resilience and a profound sense of security in the face of life's challenges. Together, you can build a new chapter filled with hope and growth, navigating the journey hand in hand.
You are worthy. You are loved. And you can choose happiness every single moment of every single day.
And until next time here's to youfirst!