Things divorced/single parents should never do to their kids
Whether we like it or not divorce and single parents are a reality in Africa today and unlike in the West these two situations carry with them stigma and isolation. Being a single parent or divorced cuts across all social economic status thus each one of us has a family member or a close friend who is divorced or has a child out of wedlock. More often than not the divorces or single parents concentrates on their own feeling at the expense of the most vulnerable; the children. Who have to grapple on a situation that is not of their own making. This has a toll on the children and the effects are carried forward into their adulthood and subsequently into their marriages. Ultimately, affects the next generation, can you image if your own mess is visited on your grand kids? Or can you comprehend, the reason your grandchildren are so messed up is because of your own selfishness? Well, this article seeks to draw attention to some of these problems and hopefully you can start a new page in your relationship with your most important investment or better the greatest gift from God and this applies to all men and women, single or divorced with children or without.
- Using children to get back at your ex
In our society this is so commonplace that we think it’s almost normal, after all he or she cheated, abandoned, visited violence on you among other despicable things. However, despite what you might be feeling, the person will always be a father/mother to the children. Therefore refusing him/her to see them is as painful for the children as it is for the person you intend to purnish. In many cases aggrieved parents think is for the best that the children move on. Far from it, they will always want to be in their father/mother’s life.
- Talking ill of your ex in the presence of children
This could have a negative impact on the children’s esteem and emotional well being given that they are likely to have some of the traits of their other parent. Some parents even go to the extent of telling their kids off for looking or behaving as their estranged spouse, the child might construe that they are as wicked as their ‘bad’ father or mother. They might also think they are a cure not a blessing if you keep on saying how you wasted your time and that nothing good came out of the union.
- Forbidding the children from seeing /talking to or about their absent parent
Parents must understand that no matter how the children are hurt by the separation or divorce, they too need closure and find a way of coping. Therefore, interrogation or even talking about the parent who is not always present is a very important aspect of their healing. Also naturally, children would love to see their parents getting back together and you run the risk of looking like you are not open for reconciliation and therefore you don’t care for the well being of the family.
- Playing the victim and making everyone miserable because you are hurting
Yes, you’re hurting and have been wronged but that doesn’t justify your insistence that everyone around you should be miserable. Life goes on, especially for the children who will learn from you how to pick themselves up despite how bad the fall is. Morning about it will not bring back the person who left and neither will it make things any better; it will just make a bad situation even worse and your children will grow up bitter and untrusting.
- Be careful not to share all the gory details of the split with the children, but say something
Kids need to know the cause of the break up so you must tell them cause of the break up, preferably together as parents. However, that is easier said than done, so if you both can sit down the children and tell them. Then you must be candid with the children and tell the reason. Having said that you mustn’t do it the horrid reason and details. It’s common to hear a grieved parent say “he could let any skirt pass by; he dipped his Mr. Victor in every hole” or “She was a prostitute; who slept with any man who asked”. Instead of saying that he or she found someone else and it’s not your (child/children’s) fault. It’s even worse when the he/she elopes with a person of the same gender, here you must consult with experts and take the child/children for counseling. Immense damage can be done when the kids find out about their father/mother’s sexual orientation as being the reason why they left, especially in their teenage or early adult life years when they are trying to find themselves.
- Take responsibility for your action before and after
If you contributed to the break up through miss conduct, negligence, abandonment or any other reason you must own up to your error and not try to cover up or justify. Kids are no fools then know more than we give them credit for, so being remorseful and correct your conduct, the kids will appreciate the effect and changes. Likewise, you can’t start misbehaving and go on a reckless revenge mission or start a bad habit that might result in addiction instead of moving on and start the tough job of single parenting.
- Don’t put the kids in the middle the war between you and your ex
Handle your business as a mature adult don’t play silly games with your ex and avoid making the kids the go between. Despite the break-up both of you must continue to parent, thus, be the adults and agree to discuss the way forward in regards to bring up the children. Kids don’t need the pressure of having to choose sides; they don’t have to especially when they are being grilled about what the other parent said or did.
- Don’t skip important milestone and family gathering because your ex might be there
Can you imagine a situation where your child is getting married or graduating and you insist you will not attend simply because your ex will be there and you don’t want to see them. Can you imagine the strain on the child? Nobody is asking you to go and kiss the ex but for the sake of family can you two be civil to each other. Be the bigger person, holding on the anger will just weigh on you, sending you to the grave before your time, after all the best revenge is success.
- Don’t make your children feel guilty for spending time with their father/mother
Despite what has happened, it’s healthy for the children to spend time with their father/mother and benefit from that son/daughter, father/mother relationship. Believe me, eventually the truth will come out and the children will judge for themselves. Making the feel guilt is also not good for their emotional well being.
- Finally, don’t make it all about you
The whole world knows that you have lost the years of your youth and wasted time and resources invested in the relationship. However, the child/children have also lost the family unit and maybe even the love of a parent thus it’s not just about you. As a matter of fact, you are 10 times more likely to get over it than the children. Remember, the good old times and what you share and thank God for the blessing that is your children.
Divorce and separation or even single parenting is not what God intended and I believe marriage is forever. However, one can wait to be killed in a physically abusive marriage or wait to contract a fatal disease just for the sake of marriage – No. There comes a time when I must decide to separate or divorce even the bible issues guidelines.
What I would wish for anyone is peace of mind and will to go on and a sense of purpose in life after the separation/divorce. More importantly, is the wisdom and strength to bring up well adjusted God fearing children. In this regards, God have mercy on us all.