One of my greatest concerns during the separation and subsequent divorce after 17 years of marriage was the effect it would have on my children. The union between my spouse and I produced two awesome boys who were extremely close to their dad.
During a divorce the welfare of the children must take precedence and the love for them must outweigh any negative emotions you may have towards your spouse.
Here are some of the steps I took to shelter my children while weathering the storms of divorce:
First and foremost I took care of myself physically and mentally so that I would not take out my frustration on them. I put great effort to not argue in front of the children. If I felt the need to express my vexation right away I would send them to their room. I restrained myself from speaking negatively about their dad, his girlfriend or his child in their presence. To do so, I would be insulting their father and brother. Whenever I needed to cry, I would cry behind closed door and if I needed to talk I would call a close friend. I was careful not to burden my kids or use them for emotional support.
I did not give the children too much detail about the divorce or the court proceedings; I just told them only what they needed to know. Often times I reassured them that they are loved by God and their parents regardless of the difficulties the family was facing. I made sure to inform their father not to discuss our problems with the boys and I told my older son if either I or his dad overwhelms him with information about the marital problems he is to remind us that he is a child.
Presently, I maintain structure in our home; there is set time for homework, bedtime, curfew and so forth. I resist the temptation to overcompensate out of guilt and I apply disciplinary measure when needed.
My children are seven years apart. I ask the older one from time to time to assist me with the younger but I never let him feel like his brother is his responsibility or that he needs to step up to be the man of the house; to do so for me would be to deprive him of his childhood. Too often in a divorce the oldest child is subconsciously forced to take the place of the parent who is missing from the home.
Additionally, in spite of the financial constraint I face as a single mother I try not to complain or speak of our lack because I don’t want them to feel like they are a burden or worry about whether or not their physical needs will be taken care of.
As my sons mature they ask specific questions about the divorce and I make sure to the best of my ability to give them straight forward answers without placing blame. I leave them to draw their own conclusion.
I still worry about my children and I cannot boast that I have it all together but I am motivated by my love for them. I continue to commit them daily to God and rely heavily on His grace