Remember when your divorce got started (or when you and your ex decided to break up)? Life was pretty bad at that point. In fact, you probably couldn’t imagine how you were going to put your life back together.
Whether it is has three months or three years since that point, things have probably improved for you and you’ve been able to move forward, at least in some ways. If you could tell the person who was in turmoil back then one thing, it might be to just have patience and things will get easier.
Parenting Takes Patience
That advice applies to your parenting situation now as well. There are lots of challenges involved in raising children after a divorce or break up. Your children will have difficulty adjusting from time to time, and their needs and schedules will change. Things will get hard, and things will get easy and rebound again.
In the entire time you’ve been a parent, you’ve been through a lot with your children, and if you had enough patience, they moved out of a phase or a tough spot eventually. The same holds true with the adjustment issues they face after a break up.
Do everything you can in the moment to make things work and remind yourself that eventually everything really will settle down. Remind yourself that your child will be this age for only a short time (although it can see as though it lasts forever when you are in the moment). Parents who have raised children after divorce will tell you that everything did work out in the end in most cases.
Take a Breath for Yourself
You will also likely go through some rough patches yourself. Learning to deal with the time away from your children when they are with the other parent can be painful. Your emotions will change as you move forward as a single parent. There are lots of changes, and ups and downs to be handled as you parent separately, and you will survive them and come out the other side.
Give Your Ex the Benefit of Time
You and your ex will probably have many misunderstandings and conflicts as you move forward as parents who are apart. It’s not easy for either of you, and your ex is sure to be a jerk at some point, make your life hard, or just complicate everything.
The most important thing to remember is that everything is in flux. What is true today won’t be true tomorrow or next week or next month. The situation is one that will be constantly evolving. It’s easy to feel as though the frustrations that are causing difficulties now will always be the case, but the truth is, that if you are patient, you will see things change.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to solve problems that are an issue today. For example, if your ex is always late for visitation, you should discuss it and look for a solution. Your ex will also grow (or maybe grow up?), and you will change. The impossible situations you’re faced with today will change. As frustrating as some of it is, it really is only temporary.
As the effects of divorce or break up fade, you and your ex will find that parenting together becomes easier. You will find a routine that will work for the most part. You will learn how to deal with your ex and many of the hurt feelings will recede, making it easier to communicate. Your children will become accustomed to the rhythm of their lives with the parenting schedule. Eventually, this will all become the new normal.
Brette McWhorter Sember is a retired family attorney and mediator and nationally known expert about divorce and parenting after divorce. She is the author of The Divorce Organizer & Planner, How to Parent With Your Ex: Working Together for Your Child’s Best Interest, The Complete Divorce Guide and The No-Fight Divorce Book. Her web site is www.BretteSember.com.