Going it Alone With Children- A Divorce Warrior’s Way

By Tomi Tuel

single-mom-and-childAfter divorce, the process of morphing your life from ‘married’ to ‘divorced with children‘ is a lot like going through Army boot camp for divorcees. You get a break when they say you get a break (they being the court). And you quickly learn to improve upon your time management skills. The rude awakening you are in for, will only serve you well. And one thing is certain, divorce is no Camp Cupcake!

Playing the role of both parents can be hard and sometimes leave you craving a break from your little darlings. When your “break” does come, it is usually consumed with running errands and grocery shopping. And if you blow off your responsibilities and have any kind of fun at all (like go on a date) during this so called “break,” you and every other divorce-warrior, like you, will be doing double time in the week to come. But fear not the hungry children awaiting you whom aren’t interested in your excuses. The Divorce-Army has taught you well. You will be prepared as evident by the crockpot meals you have learned to master and the trip to the grocery store on Monday’s noon hour…now, Double time MARCH soldier!

When it comes to bedtime, you will learn to be militant in your routine. As a single parent you can not afford the luxury of talking on the phone during the early evening. Between 8:30 and 9:15 you will be bedding the children down for the night. You will learn not to take even a five-minute call, as it will set you back thirty minutes making you late for the 9:30 roll call with Captain Kitchen. Ingeniously, you will learn to unplug the phone and let the messages go to voice mail until the children are asleep. Friends and family will know you are doing combat and will wait for your 9:30 distress signal…Mayday, Mayday!

When you start dating again you will have a curfew, of the court-ordered kind, to pick up and receive your children. Detaining the enemy is bound to inject a hostile situation and should be avoided at all cost. However, when this happens you will once again rely on your military training in hostage negotiation. Ultimately, you will learn to limit the distance of your retreats on your ‘off’ weekends…About FACE!

When parents are at war, children often become the POWs. Just remember, children will have divided loyalty, but will always defend the underdog parent. They don’t care who was right or who was wrong. They just want peace and freedom…Oh, Say, Can You See?

Be kind to your ex – at least eventually, and don’t talk bad about him/her in front of the kids. Just because you may not like your ex doesn’t mean you should crush your child’s image of them. They will eventually develop their own opinion without your help. Did you hear me soldier? Don’t teach them to hold your grudges…Yes, Drill Sergeant!

Disciplining children alone is hard. You’re soft! You’re weak! Quit your pouting! As a single parent you have to be both the nurturer and the enforcer. It is a hard role psychologically and as a single parent, you have no one to back you up. But you’re a divorce warrior, you can do this. Keep the rules simple and the consequences logical…Now drop and give me twenty!

Always keep in mind that your children come first. This will guide you in your decisions. It’s not about you and your ex anymore. It’s about the children. Keeping this in the forefront will help guide you when you are not quite sure what to do. It’s not always about doing for your kids; it’s about doing what’s right for them. Now that you are a single parent, your life will have challenges you didn’t have before. Sure you may be more inconvenienced, now that you have to do it all, but when you weigh the inconveniences out with the benefits, you just learn to suck it up because it will payoff 10-fold in the long run…Atten-HUT!

Children can give you immense strength and are great teachers of the obvious, especially when you’re in the trenches. Just asking a child what they want can give you clarity. I’m not talking about leaving decisions up to a child, that’s not fair to them. But, when you are confused and need clarity, just ask your child what they think and then just listen, go brain dead after that and don’t judge their opinion…At EASE!

Location, location, location! Live close to your ex, at least while the kids are school age. It may be hard and you may not like it, but if it’s possible, living closer together for the sake of the children will make your life simpler. For one reason or another, it may not be possible — the neighborhood may not be of your choosing, or it may be too far from your job. But if both parents share custody, it will make your life a whole lot simpler as the children get older and you shuttle them between activities and each other…Recon! Recon!

When divorce strikes like an air raid, we have to be ready. We didn’t all recruit ourselves, some of us were drafted. Everyone’s divorce reality will be different, but one thing is certain, it can be the most difficult thing you ever go through and the most life altering experience you ever come out of. Many soldiers have fallen from the battles of Heartbreak Ridge, but not you. You are a survivor, and that’s an order from your Brigadier General!

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