You can have a great life after divorce AND still be a great parent too.
Divorce forces loss after loss after loss – loss of your marriage, loss of your home, loss of your life style, loss of your future together, and loss of your kids. Well, maybe you don’t really lose your kids, but it sure feels that way when you don’t get to see them every day.
When you’re used to being there for your kids and knowing everything that’s going on in their lives being without them is devastating. So, you do whatever you can to make the time you do have with them count more than ever. But when they’re with their other parent, you’re lost.
You know that it’s time to get on with your life, but the simple thought of moving on after divorce brings up fears of moving on from your kids and leaving them behind so their other parent can raise them. These terrifying thoughts are so crushing and abhorrent that you struggle to function.
So, you don’t move on. You continue to cling to your children and only really come alive when you’re with them.
The problem is that living only for your kids isn’t fair to your them. They notice that you’re not really living your life and they can tell that you’re becoming more and more insecure.
This is not the parent you want to be and it’s not the parent your children deserve.
You don’t have to choose between having a great life after divorce and being a great parent.
Moving on after divorce doesn’t mean that your new life doesn’t allow you to continue being a great parent.
The first step to moving on after divorce is to do your divorce recovery work. That means that you dig into the emotions you’ve locked away and grieve the losses. You accept that you had a part in the demise of your marriage and figure out what you can or should do differently in your next relationship. And you plan for and create a life that you love.
(Admittedly, healing after divorce is much easier to read about than to do. Most people benefit from working with a helping professional – therapist, divorce coach, clergy member – to fully heal.)
The second step to moving on after divorce is to figure out new ways to connect with your kids. This requires that you ask yourself, “How can I be just as involved with them as I was before the divorce?”
You might make more time to go to their games or recitals. You might have lunch with them at school. You might teach them about the new hobby you’ve found as part of your healing process. You might take them and their best friends out on some adventure. The possibilities really are endless (and much easier to see when you’re over your divorce).
What you choose to do now to connect with your kids will differ from how you connect with them in the future because they’re growing up. So, your job as a parent will continue to change and you’ll be challenged to discover new ways to build your relationship with them just like you were before the end of your marriage.
Your divorce has already forced you to make a bunch of really tough adjustments and the thought of making even more changes is probably a bit discouraging.
But this is the home stretch of the adjustments you’ll need to make because of divorce and these changes are for your kids. Knowing that should be great motivation for you to build a life after divorce that works not only for your kids, but for you too.
And the best part is that when you’re living a happier life that includes focusing on building your relationships with your children, you’ll realize that your fears of losing your kids once you moved on from your divorce were just a sign that you had an opportunity to become an even better parent than you already are.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach helping people just like you who are struggling with the loss of their marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
Looking for more tips on getting over your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Healing After Divorce.
This article originally appeared on The Goodmen Project.