By Counselor Karen: I know on the subject of divorce and co-parenting there could be endless articles about how to cope with the many emotions one feels in the situation. I have yet to see any though on dealing with divorce when it comes to children growing up and sharing the affections of new additions to the family such as a son or daughter in laws and even grandkids.
There is a time in between when the children grow up and graduate and make a life on their own where the parents who have dealt with divorce and split visitation and child support have some reprieve from having to talk to or keep in contact with the other parent. This time really is important because it gives the parent or parents’ time to regroup from an emotional roller coaster they had gone through for so many years. While some may be lucky to get along as co-parents after divorce, the fact remains many parents do not.
Then comes the next chapter of life. Your son or daughter grows up and falls in love. Let’s face it you enjoyed not having to hear about the other parent for a while. Then all of sudden all the memories come back from the past and the anger and hurt that was felt after divorce in regards to the children. The fighting and bickering over things that you disagreed on. Now you are faced with having to allow them to re-enter your life because now you are going to share a whole other set of lives with them. New additions to your family and grandkids. You are going to have to attend weddings with them and birthdays parties for their children.
Many like me found that it was harder than imagined. Recently my son met a girl. She comes with an added bonus of a three year old son. I live five hours from them and so I have not been able to go and meet her yet. Of course with the dad and stepmom being closer in proximity, they have got to meet her and her son multiple times. The feelings I have felt over this have been horrible. First off, I raised my son. I was the one that did all for him growing up and now I see him sharing his life with people that were not always there for him growing up. It is like I have this anger that at times puts me back to the times when I was raising them and having to deal with my ex continuously. I will admit the jealousy, the anger, the hurt of not being the first one to meet her has definitely reared its ugly head. But it got me thinking too about stopping the madness of the next generation in allowing DIVORCE to ruin their new family to be. I cannot allow myself to let it affect me for not only their sake but my own. So I have searched my heart in ways I should move forward in this to bring a positive outcome for them.
Let’s face it divorce was hard enough for our children growing up; they should not have to deal with it in their new beginnings. I am thankful that her parents have been married and never divorced and for that reason I want to be a good example to them in how I handle myself in this new season of life.
Below I have outlined some guidelines that I feel will help me as well as anyone going through this. It is important to not lose sight of the blessings that you are about to encounter by letting the negativity in.
- Communicate your hurts right off to your son or daughter if you feel they have hurt you. It is best to be honest and forthcoming in how you feel about how they are handling, including their new loved one into your lives. It can be complicated with more than one family unit to merge with.
- Don’t always assume that your new son or daughter in law is going to like you less than the other parent. You are both so different obviously so maybe variety is good. Get to know them on your own terms and spend time alone with them so they can get to know you.
- Don’t demand time with them. The more you allow them to make their own grown up decisions, the more they will invite you places. They don’t want the pressure either. They went through enough growing up.
- Don’t pick arguments with other parents. When you have to be with them at a family function, smile and focus on the people you are there for. Even if it’s hard.
- Encourage them to stay together to not make the mistakes that you made in the past. After all, you want your own adult children to be happy in life.
- Don’t make them feel guilty about spending time with the other parent even if you were the one that spent most of their life with them. Even though you may not like the other parent, it is still their other parent. They will love them regardless of their flaws or shortcomings. Sometimes they want to find that love they never received when they were children.
- Love, love, love your new daughter in law or son in law and grandchildren. No matter what these people are going to be an extension of the son or daughter that are part of you. SO you will see many things in the grandkids especially that remind you of yourself. This will make it easy to show affection.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to prove anything to the other parent that you are better. Most people have their own strong intuition on which they get along with. SO don’t engage in negative talk about the other parent when they are not around with new additions. Speak positive and peaceful and I promise in the end you will be blessed with seeing your son or daughters new life open before you.
There are no rule books to Divorce because let’s face it when you get divorced you usually are too angry to care about doing right. When your son or daughter gets to be an adult though it’s a time you should be older and wiser and can redeem yourself from the wrongs you did when they were little. It is never too late to have a happy life and that all comes down to loving yourself and letting the past go. By this time many divorcees are well past the hard times and usually remarried or dating someone long term. The best thing you can do for your adult children is to love them and love all the people they bring into your life. God does not make mistakes and now is the time to really make up for yours!
Love and Light,