Being a divorced mom means not having control over what happens when the kids are with their father. And that, well, it’s not always easy to manage.
I cannot call their father and tell him that he should do things like this or like that. Sure, I could do it, but the chances of him listening to me are pretty slim, knowing that he tends to do the opposite of what I might suggest. Ah, that damn undigested anger…
When my children told me about their emotions, their complaints, about certain behaviours of their dad, who, I reassure everyone here, is a good father, I realized that he simply isn’t perfect, just like me. I sought out help from his sister, the aunt of my children, with whom I maintain a trustful relationship.
She understood the issue and spoke to him. He took it well this time and the discussion opened a constructive dialogue between my ex and my little kids.
Today, the situation is a little different. My ex-husband has a new partner. A new partner meaning a new priority for dad, but also new dynamics at home.
I’m not going to flaunt what my kids are telling me, but frankly, we’re not far from the “Cinderella” story sometimes. I’m exaggerating a bit, well, I hope I am, but it’s just to set the tone and put a little humour in this situation which unfortunately is not very fun for my children.
Basically, my kids are telling me about what’s going on at their daddy’s house when they’re with me, and they sometimes call me crying when they’re over there.
Obviously, there is a reason for what they are telling me, which can be put down to it taking time to get used to a new person who comes to” steal” a “part of their dad”. I always try to support my ex-husband in his new life by encouraging my children to be flexible and welcoming in this new situation.
I advise them to have a dialogue. I said that they should tell their dad how they feel, tell him how they are coping with this new situation, which, by the way, is not that new anymore, because we are talking about the past 2 years now.
So, they answer – “But we are talking to daddy. He is not listening though. He always defends it, he says that it is up to us to adapt, to make an effort …”.
I take this opportunity to create a little aside here and recognize that her role is not obvious either. She arrives to a love in which the past has produced two children who have their well-established place in the house and with their father. To make your bed, be recognized, feel legitimate is not easy either. But, hey, that’s a whole other subject…
And that brings my little kids to tears. They are confronted with so many emotions and they feel trapped in this situation. They can tell me about it, but they can’t do anything. They suffer and suddenly are forced to swallow through their emotions.
And here I see the red flag. After years of working on me, my personal development and doing exercises as a coach, I know well how unrecognized, unwelcome, not experienced and especially – unapproached emotions in childhood can leave their mark in the age of adulthood and handicap their personal development.
So, after the discussions this weekend and after having to listen to my son yesterday on the phone with a heavy heart and a little tear in the corner of my eye, I started feeling helpless. I have to help my children.
My children are now 11 and 13 years old, so they are old enough to understand a lot. They are old enough to learn to manage their emotions, and above all to defend themselves in the face of adversity.
So, I told them that they have to talk to their father again. That they must speak of their emotions, of their feelings, that they must use “I” and not “you” which, we know well, can be experienced as an attack to one’s persona and, therefore, in most cases, points fingers at the other instead of inviting him to engage with dialogue.
I also told them that the important thing here is not really that things can change, even if that’s all I wish for them, but that they can free themselves from their emotions in order to regain the lightness that should be the basis of the life of any child.
This moment may not be very pleasant for my children, but it is a great opportunity to grow, to learn, recognize and manage their emotions, learn how to engage in a dialogue with kindness by enabling the other rather than overwhelming him with reproaches.
This is life, for young and old – learning, evolution, sometimes a struggle, and enjoyment. Emotions are the colors that paint our life, and we all know it – a life full of colors makes a painting much richer and much more interesting.
This story I share it with you today not to piggyback off the back of my ex, or that of his partner, but as a testimony that it is not always easy to be a single mom and especially to be a child who still has everything to learn.