Parents as parents – even if divorced
Divorce caused so much upheaval in my family. It tends to do that in all families.
My children grew up and left home and I did too, at the same time. They were supportive and because they were grown up I treated them like my friends. I talked about my fears and lost life and shared some of my anguish. What I didn’t do – discuss their father with them, or run him down. As a result I thought we were handling everything very maturely.
That is, until one of my children said to me – I can’t be there for you when you’re falling apart.
I felt hurt but was extremely pleased that she’d said what she felt. I made a decision not to off load either my depression or aloneness on my children. But I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about my parenting issues. Divorce is so personal and yet so public and the members of the family going through the process don’t want everyone to know exactly what’s going on. I didn’t want to involve my mother or my siblings and had no friends who were divorcing at the same time. I talked instead to those whose world was crumbling with mine – my children. I wish I hadn’t had such an intense need for privacy and had talked instead to my sister, my friends, my Buddhist group. Some of the most disturbing stuff I discussed with my therapist and the rest I processed myself. I wish I had read Why you can’t be your child’s friend before.
Yesterday one of my children sent me several nasty accusatory messages about something she thought I had done. I was talking to her sister at the time. I didn’t discuss my distress with her – which is what I would probably have done between the period of my divorce and my new decision not to talk about my problems with the children.
Instead I talked to my ex – their father. I need him to be on the same page as me when it comes to disciplining children and making it clear to them what is acceptable and what isn’t. It was quite an event for me to be co-parenting again. My ex and I discuss practical matters and he has phoned me sometimes to appeal for my help in getting a point across to an unreasonable adult offspring but I haven’t talked to him about my emotional reaction to our children’s bad behavior. I think I did try at the beginning of the divorce process but all I got at the time was, “Well what do you expect if you decide to walk out?”
But that was a long time ago – and things are different now.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Even if your children are adults, there are boundaries that need to be maintained. Especially during divorce.
This post is part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge for July 2013.
- A Good Divorce: What it Looks LIke (judithconte.wordpress.com)