Staying for the kids…

Hello strong men and women.  I have had a lot of questions lately surrounding staying for the kids’ sake.  I want you to know this is a valid question and one any caring parent will contemplate prior to divorce.  

I was there for many years and, to be brutally honest, I revisited the idea during the divorce.  Anything is better than your babies suffering, right?  Ask yourself these questions:

Do you want your children to be in a respectful relationship?

Do you want your children to know true happiness?

Do you and your spouse model the behaviors you want them to share with theirs?

Do you believe children understand more than you realize?

Do you want your children to be adored by others?

Do you want your children to have strength and achievement?

Are you living your full potential with an unsupportive spouse?

If you answered yes to any of these, either start modeling the behaviors you want your children to live or make changes. Divorce may not always be the answer, but suffering for the kids’ sake is definitely not.

I was lucky, my ex was gone a lot, so it was just me and our babies.  It was fine, but I was alone and even at young ages, the girls remember.  I was suffering and even though I thought I protected them, they knew.  Would it have been easier on them to have us together? Probably, but what would I be teaching them?  Marriage takes 2 people giving everything – it cannot be one sided no matter how giving 1 person is.

Do not stay in an unhealthy relationship for the kids!  You are teaching your children something with all of your actions.  Focus on teaching them core values by modeling them every day.  Love, honesty, adoration, respect, honor, trust and strength are gifts of character that cannot just be spoken.  I am a better example every day now than I ever was before.  It took focusing on what is most important.  How are you living? 

Bad days…

During divorce and many years following (maybe forever?)… there are bad days.  I have learned to manage these much better and avoid triggers and/or negative influences, but when my babies have bad days – there is nothing to describe the pain and heartache.

My youngest had a bad day yesterday and thankfully she’s only had a few.  It was tough. I couldn’t do anything but listen.  We have a policy in our house that anything can be said and revealing your heart is always ok.  It started with a rough day at school and then it escalated into all her worries from the past couple years.  She had questions about divorce and why it’s part of anyone’s world.  She revealed bad memories she had of our lives before divorce.  We talked about her friends at school that are struggling with their parents divorce and how they confide in each other.  She discussed the issues she has at both houses.  She opened up about the trouble she has trying to make sure she’s got everything she needs and doesn’t forget stuff. She was heartbroken and pouring it all out.  I listened and cried with her.

After what felt like forever, she was done revealing her hurt.  I decided to redirect the discussion and focus on positives.  We talked about how we can do things in both houses to stay happy and enjoy all the blessings we have.  She started talking about the good memories she had before the divorce and some good ones since.  We discussed ways to help her feel less broken like keeping photos of me and her father together in her room and us working together to keep the atmosphere light and happy when we are all in the same place or at the same event.  We talked a lot about how much she is loved and the benefit of having bonus parents that love her too. We cuddled and went to bed early to get some rest.

There are lots of takeaways from this bad day… 

– I’m reminded that the world could be a much better place if we all saw it through the eyes of a child.   

– Change is tough on little ones and even the smallest change can trigger hurt.

– No matter how hard my days are, my girls need my focus and my presence when I am home.

– Regardless of the happiness we provide, it will not take away the fact that her family is broken and her parents are not together.

– Parents and bonus parents should put out as much effort as possible to put aside the differences and provide a united front for the kids.  We will disagree, but the kids should not be in the middle.  They should come first.

– Bad days will happen and an open ear with no boundaries is so important.

– Divorce forces kids to feel they have no control over what happens to them. Let them be part of your household decisions and give them some control back.

I have learned so much over the past couple years, but I have to remember our girls are learning huge life lessons too.  My guidance and effort are needed all the time. It’s ok to have bad days and it’s ok to fall, but we will continue to be positive, focus on the good and grow together.  Today is going to be a good day!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect can be interpreted in many ways.  The Webster dictionary defines respect as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.  I find that many aspects of life revolve around this one little word that can be so powerful.  When I think of the world today and the obstacles each and every one of us face, it can have a huge impact if everyone would have a little more respect.

R = Relational values:  To some, this may mean nothing, but to me, this means a lot.  I value my close relationships and I love to surround myself with like-minded people.  When you value others, you care for their feelings, you care about their activities and you are there when needed.

E = Everyone:  This is where we all step back and say, “not everyone deserves my respect.”  That may be true, but giving it to those who don’t deserve it can be rewarding in it’s own way.  Everyone needs respect.  It has to start somewhere.  Do your part even if it’s tough.

S = Sincere:  To be respectful, one MUST be sincere.  It’s that simple.

P = Polite:  Showing respect to others involve politeness.  Not everyone deserves your respect and not everyone responds if you are polite, do it anyway.  They need it the most.

E =  Earn it:  Do your best to earn the respect you receive from others.  Sometimes you can show it and get nothing in return, but always do your part to earn it whether or not it’s reciprocated.

C = Children:  They need your respect more than you realize.  I’m finding out more and more in the teen years it’s not reciprocated as much, but when you show respect to them, you earn a little back each time.  They are sponges, so you are also showing them how to treat others.

T = Treatment:  How you treat others is the most important.  And what most people do not understand is it’s not how you perceive that you treat them, it’s how they perceive you treat them.  Showing that you care about their feelings and understand what is important to them defines how you treat them.

I believe RESPECT is the main reason we see so many failed marriages and relationships these days.  Respect is definitely needed in a union of marriage and unfortunately for me, it was NEVER there.  I can say that I lost respect for my ex a year or so before we were ever married and lost respect for myself somewhere in the middle and it continued to deteriorate our relationship for the following 17 years and continues to this day.  As an alcoholic and drug abuser, he didn’t know how to show respect for anything.

My thoughts have changed since then, I have re-gained my respect for myself, I’ve matured a lot and I have 2 very important observers that I expect to treat others well, so I do my part as much as possible.  I have a lot of respect for my ex that I show him every day by caring about his relationship with our girls, by telling our girls what great qualities they’ve received from him and by being as flexible and understanding as possible with scheduling, school, etc.  I choose to be polite even in the midst of disagreements.  Showing respect for someone you feel has not earned it has to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.  Showing respect for his spouse, who blatantly disrespects my wishes for our girls, is even harder (I do not allow cut off shirts even if they are in style, I do not take our girls to meet boys without knowing them or discussing it with their dad, I do not allow boys over while I take a nap and I do not keep my kids out past 10:30 on a school night).  These may seem silly to some, but these are important to me.

But then I remember… we are all raised differently.  We all were taught different ways to treat others.  Some were not taught respect, some were not taught manners, some were not taught to be kind even when someone is not kind to you, some were not taught to put others first and some people were taught that the world owes them something for nothing.  I learned throughout our marriage that giving was just my part, he was a taker – when I decided it was a 2-way street, regained my confidence and started respecting myself, he got worse and still cannot handle the loss of control.  I was taught to always see the good in people and I still do.  There is good in everyone and I will continue to focus on that.  I cannot help the fact that someone else doesn’t, I am only responsible for my actions.

My actions have allowed a relationship now that is filled with mutual respect, love, honor, trust and loyalty.  I found another giver with a huge heart!!! Part of my absence lately has been for him (the other part was out of respect for my exes wishes that I not write anymore – however, after multiple requests for advice and the realization that it was just another way for him to control me, I am back for good).  I am excited to share the “Next Chapter” with you all (much less about the ex).  I am engaged, we are planning a wedding and I passed another licensing exam!!!  I have chosen Character over Chaos and although our world is crazy, we wouldn’t have it any other way.  We have the support we’ve both always dreamed of and we don’t have to ask for it.  It’s such a blessing.

I will continue to respect others and teach our daughters to do the same – regardless of what they receive in return.  We could all agree to disagree a little better and show respect for other’s differences and love them anyway.  More to come on the rainbow after the storm…

“When we love and respect people, revealing to them their value, they can begin to come out from behind the walls that protect them.”  – Jean Vanier