Just remember that we are just as scary to the opposite sex as they are to us. On date two, try and be natural AND try to not over-analyze everything that occurs. Dating after a divorce is intimidating enough as it is – without having to try and impress the other person. Sometimes, after divorce, people talk about, complain about, and rant about their ex’s to anyone who will listen. Do not do it on dates – if you want to continue dating a person you really like.
When we date, we are vulnerable, not unlike how teenagers feel. ‘Does he like me?’, ‘Does he think I’m cute?, ‘does she think I’m smart? She gets worried if his eyes are off of us and on someone else at dinner. He is concerned if we look like we aren’t paying attention to his story at dinner. Try not to take anything personally, most of the time it isn’t about us. It’s human nature for people to be stuck in their own world. This is a good time to dip your toes into dating waters and get comfortable without evaluating or critiquing.
So when you’ve made it past the first date and find yourself with someone you actually like and would like to see again – remember your date is nervous too. Instead of watching for signs that he or she may hurt you, just enjoy yourself and know you’re with another vulnerable person on the planet, who is just as unsure and nervous…just another person looking for love.
So many post-divorce daters jump into conversations about their children (not just how old they are, but their entire childhood history and genealogy gets revealed). If you leave the children out of the equation, for now, you can get to know the person (not the parent); and you’ll be able to ease yourself back into dating and romance as a man or woman – not as a parent. There is always time to reveal your parenting styles and share…but the first or second date is better for determining if this PERSON could be right for you…
Now, it’s all about YOU.
As a single parent, we have to be really creative with time. We need to make sure that we have time to read magazines if we wanted, to make sure we have time to do the things we did before, so we don’t feel ripped off or angry about all of the limits we have now.
You can set up little rituals around the house. You can set up a ritual where mommy takes a bath at 8:00, where she can read magazines, light a candle, or take some time for herself. While mommy’s doing that, you go and read a book or you watch your favorite program. There’s little rituals you can create which actually make it a lot more fun for the whole family, and you get to actually take care of yourself as well.
Missing what you had in marriage is a common emotion when we are facing or moving through a divorce. It’s important that you do something about it because your child is going to look to you for support.
When I get in a confused state, I often write a letter to my future self – an affirming pep talk so to speak. If you feel like you have no future, you cannot create one for yourself and be there in your body for your child or children. I visualize myself in a good place and write down all the things I want to do with my life, and what I want to create.
The last thing we want, as parents, is for our children to be afraid for us or think they have to take care of us. Many children of divorce end of feeling that have to take care of their parent, and it’s here where a child can lose years of their childhood. We do not want that to happen, you see it in children of an alcoholic parent, a depressed parent or a parent that has lost hope in the financial and emotions roller coaster of divorce.
So, get out a notebook and start rewriting your story, begin to plan our your new life with exciting new adventures: a wish list or bullet points of what you want to create for yourself and your children. Find support with a therapist or close friend if need it, a lot of us have been where you, are and are willing and able to help you move past the depression, fear and numbness you might be feeling. You owe it to yourself!
Whenever holidays come at us...it’s time to slow down and take a deep breath. Let’s not forget we are making memories for our children with everything we do - so why not be creative.
If you’re filled with resentment (which, by the way is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die), anger (which only zaps OUR energy), fear (false evidence appearing real) or concern (that’s much more empathic) - it’s time to step outside of those feelings and step into gratitude and count our blessings.
It’s fun to take pictures or videos to create lasting memories. You can make a wonderful scrapbook from holiday souvenirs, and you can share these with family and friends. If you’re on your own for this holiday- ask the other parent to take pictures and make duplicates for you so you can share in the joy and have a memory for you and your child at your home too. If there’s stress between the two parents, make a pact that for holidays - you will bother share photographs with each other - for the joy of your child.
Holidays after a life transition can be challenging, if this is your first holiday season after a divorce or death of a spouse - be tender with yourself. It’s difficult, but try to stay out of the past and what was...build up your strength to create a new present and future for you and your child. Find the support you need, get plenty of rest and rediscover gratitude for the greatest gift of all -- your child!
When a relationship has ended, especially badly (for one or both parts of a couple), we tend to wish ‘the other’ moved to another neighborhood or better yet – another universe. The last thing we want is to run into them. Many couples refuse to visit the same hangouts they shared together and some go as far as moving to make sure their eyes never meet up again. But, it happens; sometimes it happens when we least expect it (most unpleasant is when we look our worst). What do we do when our angry ex shows up in our space and we simply cannot ignore, nor forgive, them?
Remember that you are not responsible for anyone’s behavior but your own. Not unlike children, some ex’s continue bad behavior to get attention (of any kind). It’s their way of staying attached to you; it’s a quick sand way of relating. The more you struggle or fuss, the deeper you go down. Remember that you can’t take back angry words that are spoken. It’s best to keep conversations short; if need-be telling your ex you’ll email him/her if there is any conversation that needs to be had. Be the bigger, better person in the room. Take a breath and take the high road! Let your ex act like a jerk while you just count the ways you are glad they are out of your life. They are now someone else’s ‘issue’ – not yours.
Count your Blessings. Count them with every word or look they give you. Stand tall as you walk away, back into your own new life.
Enter the world of Parent Alienation Syndrome, which is actually a syndrome. Nothing stirs up passions more than the controversy generated when parents are at war over the custody of a child. The only losers are the children, who become casualties of war. Fear takes over reason, incomplete facts become evidence, and court calendars become jammed with repeat visits to a judge to try to bring sanity to what is unlikely to ever be sane. On top of this, social movements are promoting one side over another in their clamor for justice. Politicians are lobbied to pass laws to bring order to chaos. Gender wars are fueled and lives are destroyed.
What has changed?
In the 1960’s and the 1970’s, feminists told fathers that they should take a more active role in raising their children. Women were going to work, going back to college and pursuing careers as never before. A shift then began, and fathers became more involved in the day-to-day care of their children than was true in previous generations. As rigidity about parental roles began to fall away, the tender years doctrine was still in place. This doctrine presumed that by virtue of the fact that a woman was the mother of a child, that she must be the superior parent. In the early 1970’s several states passed “no-fault” divorce laws, where anyone who wanted out of a marriage was free to leave. Some have called it the “no guilt laws.” There was a proliferation of divorce that was historically unprecedented.
After a family breakup, many fathers wanted to continue to be involved with the care of their children. Suddenly, they found that they had no legal right to have custody of their children unless the mother agreed to it. Due to the lobbying efforts of James Cook, founder of the Joint Custody Association, who was caught up in this problem himself, the California legislature successfully passed the first joint custody laws. Joint custody was widely seen as a better way of handling the evolving problem of how to share child custody. It was believed that it would lead to fewer fights over the custody of children because it was more equal. Other states also passed joint custody laws. These laws helped to level the playing field for fathers.
The majority of mothers and fathers welcomed joint custody. Others did not. As with any trend, there was a backlash. Child custody became a highly political gender-specific issue. Thus, the ramping up of high-level disputes also began in the 70’s. In most states the tender years presumption (mother knows best) was replaced with the best-interests-of-the-child presumption of joint custody (the best parent is both parents). In the 1980’s, courts began to increasingly ignore gender in determining child custody. This removed the automatic allocation of full custody rights to the mother, so she had less time with the children. Instead, the courts looked first at how the custody could be shared, and if that wasn’t possible, judicial officers attempted to determine which parent was more interested and better able to attend to the best interest of the child.
Fathers perceived that they were at a disadvantage because of a bias toward the mother having custody. Because of this, in the 1980’s more fathers than ever started showing up at parenting classes to make sure that their skills were state of the art. This is when these issues were first called to my attention. Most parents were able to share custody of their children, and they worked out childcare issues in an amicable way. A large number of women were even relieved to have fathers share in the childcare, which enabled them to pursue their personal life goals involving their education and career.
However, when there was not a friendly resolution to custody, fathers found themselves with a greater opportunity to gain joint or primary custodial status by litigating (going to court). The stakes got even higher when the legal system was used to resolve these difficult problems. In extreme cases, the alienation of a child’s affection against a targeted parent became a bizarre escalation of the intensity of the conflict.
A Single Mom's Story...Raising My Son to Manhood...
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