Friday, February 4, 2011

Rules on surviving the War i.e. Divorce

“The thing about divorce is that it doesn’t actually kill you” – Frances; Under the Tuscan Sun, great movie, watch it.

So you are divorced, now what?

Being a single parent is hard. If you don’t believe me, ask a single mother or father first before you contemplate doing it on your own.

I am the most well adjusted divorced child I know and I know quite a few. I was lucky because my mother was who she was. She never kept my father away from us, never said nasty things behind his back. And when we wanted to hate him, she reminded us that he was still our father. She poked and prodded and forced us to open up and deal with the situation. Even though we didn’t want to. Even though we came from a generation where adults didn’t care about how their children felt. We all (parents included) had to deal with our issues. The result of that is my parents can sit in a room and joke and laugh with each other. And my father’s wife as well as his new in-laws. We are weird family to most, but the most important thing is that we are apart of each others lives.

The truth is that you can have a healthy family after divorce. Children can get over it. They will never really be the same like ‘normal’ people. But they can lead normal lives after this. It takes a lot of hard work but it can be done. Will and Jada Smith in their interviews with Oprah talked about have “an extended” family. Jada said it the best “It’s not about us”

Rule No1: It’s not about you!!
What is important is that your children have both their parents actively participating in their lives. So put aside your shit, slap a smile on your face and NEVER let them see you angry/sad

Rule No2:
Deal with your anger Whatever your reason for getting divorced, deal with your shit on your own! It kills me when parents don’t see anything besides their own anger and pain. And drag their children in the middle. Don’t make it anybody else’s problem but yours. If you are okay with the divorce your children will heal much faster.

Rule No3: You are the Adult -While the parents are caught in all the emotional turmoil that comes with divorce (whether you hated your partner or not) children become the replacement adult. I don’t know why but divorce ages children. They become pseudo adults over night. Often the parent will lean on the oldest child or the oldest child will feel the need, to step into the shoes of the missing parent.

Here is what I have to say to that. Don’t punish your child for the decisions that you made. You are the one who is the adult. Whether you asked for it or not. It is your responsibility to make sure your child is looked after. It is not your child’s responsibility to take care of you. I don’t care how old you are. If your child does this, don’t leave them. My mother made it very clear that we were the children and she the adult. This helped in getting over the divorce because I was able to hang on to what little of my childhood was left. I was able to ‘return to normal’.

Rule No4: Dr Phil always says – DON'T FIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS. It changes who they are. This rule applies when you are married and when you are divorced. I have a friend who is about 22. He is single still lives with his family and every time his parents fight, he goes off the deep end. Breaks up with his girlfriend, and replaces everything he is feeling with drugs, clubs and alcohol. I know at least three of my friends that got married to get out of the house, because their parents were constantly fighting. Two of which are now unhappy but will not move back home.

Arguing in front of your kids is one thing, but throwing chairs and calling your kids mother a bitch/slut or father a good for nothing son of a bitch is quite another. Every time you fight in front of your kids you make them a part of your marriage and they are not. They are a product of it. You have no right to burden your children with your adult problems.

My cousin was three when she went to her parents and told them, she hurts inside when they fight. They proceeded to laugh at her. Today that same cousin’s parents are divorced and she cannot express the way she feels. She bottles everything until one day when she will explode. And what will the parents say? I never brought you up like this!

It is important for your children to see that you have processed the divorce and that you honour the relationship you had with your partner. If your children see that you are happy they will be happy. And by honouring your relationship with your ex, you are showing your children that they are not a mistake or a product of a broken home.

Rule No5: Your kids are not your personal messaging service – keep your children out of your relationship and issues with your ex. Like I said before every time you involve them, you turn them into children with adult problems. They are going to grow up one day; they will have plenty of those. Do your own dirty work.

Rule No6: It’s never truly over – Your relationship with your ex will never end. As long as you share children you are forever bonded together. So don’t pretend otherwise. Children want to know that you respect the other parent even though you no longer live together

Rule No7: Don’t Replace – Your children have a mother/father so don’t try and find someone to get married to thinking that this will make them more stable. It won’t. All that it will do is give your children more issues. It sends a message to the child is that their mother/father is replaceable and that one day when they move out, you will replace them. You may want to ‘be happy’. But happiness comes in many forms. You will be a much happier person if you know that the person you say you love more than life itself is well and happy. As a Muslim women living alone, it is better that you get married, but take your time. And when you are ready to get married, the key to a successful new marriage and happy children is this:

Make sure your ex – and current get along
In order for this to happen, you have to have a good relationship with your ex. If you are able to have a birthday party, Eid or wedding with you and your ex and your new spouses, your children will be almost normal. This is the most important thing you can do for your children. Don’t worry about what your aunty, friend or even mother says. Don’t worry about what is considered societal norm. What is important is that your children are able to have both their parents at their wedding, Eid and children’s birthdays. Those moments when family is together will make the hole that they live with that has now become a part of their lives, feel as if it is almost non-existent.

1 comment:

desert demons said...

Thanx these are important lessons - especially coming from a kids point of view.