Over the past few weeks, there have been some tense, frustrating, uneasy and downright scary moments for my kids. In particular, my 16-year-old. There is NO WAY any parenting book, magazine article, web story, urban myth or even peer parenting advice can prepare a single dad for raising a 16-year-old girl.
I am convinced that the trials and tribulations we go through on a daily basis has contributed to my unexplained weight gain, hair loss, increased wrinkles, trips to the counseling office and decreased bank account. But through it all, I am still waking up ABOVE the ground. And, contrary to Chicken Little’s theory, the sky has yet to fall (albeit, VERY close).
Now, there is a good reason why I still have an atom of sanity left. No, it’s not due to my keen wits, strong mental capacities, or even a miracle from the heaven above (although there has been A LOT of strength passed to me via that channel). Nope, it’s because of daughter’s mom … my ex-wife.
Yes, you heard me correctly; I am giving credit to my ex-wife for something positive.
To some, complimenting an ex might seem like a phenomenon on the level of Aurora Borealis, parting of the seas or crop circles. And, according to nearly all of the first dates (aka: scorned ex-wives) I’ve had, not only is a compliment toward the ex completely out of the question, but we are supposed to HATE our ex and shouldn’t even tinkle on them should they become aflame.
When our marriage ended some eight or nine years ago (I’ve lost track by now), I figured I (we) had a choice to make–we could go through life being bitter, spiteful, and vindictive towards each other, or we could choose to not point the finger (although there are times when a finger probably does get pointed), accept the circumstances and make the best of things. Believe me, there was plenty of blame to go around for things not working out. However, one thing that was not to be included in our blame was our kids.
And yes, we do actually get along. We have cordial conversations. We can be in the same room together. Shoot, I can even go to a birthday dinner with her and her husband. We have been there for each other any time the kids need us, without reservation, by working together to try to make a better life for them. And why, you might ask, do I choose to put myself through this “torture” (that’s your word, not mine)? THE KIDS.
Before you think I am some pushover and painting a land of fantasy portrait here, there are times when we don’t agree and have some MAJOR parenting differences. And yes, we do have some quite spirited (to put it mildly) discussions every now and then. But, at the end of the day, we figure out our differences and do what is right for the kids.
If you’ve had to go through the divorce process, you know it’s not an easy thing. Things are said. Names are called. Feelings get hurt. Egos get bruised. And too many times, the kids are caught right in the middle of this crossfire. It’s hard enough on these young’ens as it is. Why make things more difficult?
My message today is this: If you, or someone you know, has been (or is in) the middle of, or will be going through divorce, think of your kids and their well-being FIRST. Put the “woe is me” stuff on the side burner for a hot minute and think of what they must be going through. They are not the ones choosing to turn their lives upside down. Yet, they will be affected in some way, shape or form. Although there might be some well-deserved (and earned) hard feelings towards the ex, do your best to at least co-exist with them when the kids are involved. Whether they tell you or not, I guarantee you that the kids will appreciate it.
And, whatever you do, be careful where you point that finger … especially if you choose to use the middle one. You never know what set of little eyes could be watching.
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