Divorce is one of those complications. It is personal and it is painful. It is one of those things in life that I believe is supposed to be private. Which is why I have never really talked about my divorce on this blog.
Recently, I started receiving harassing comments from an anonymous reader. Due to the amount of details this reader has, I am to assume it is either an ex-family member or close friend. And although they are not threatening, they have been brutally mean, arrogant and hateful. At first I was offended. A multitude of emotions ran through my body, most of which was sadness. Sadness that this family member or friend I once called my own, suddenly felt it prudent to lash out at me, without any warning or provocation. There has been over 11 years of silence, until now.
Perhaps what they are most burdened by is the reality that this idealistic life my family lives, could have included them, had different choices been made. Loss can be terribly debilitating, blind you from reality and make it hard to move forward, especially if you continue to carry around unresolved anger. So for the pain they must still be suffering, regardless of who is at fault, I forgive these most recent actions against me.
(And thank you WordPress for showing me how to blacklist a commenter.)
This experience has caused me to closely look at how I have presented myself and my divorce to my daughter, The Tortoise. She was just over a year old when her father and I separated and two by the time we were divorced. Since I was given Sole Custody, I potentially could have negatively influenced her opinion of her father. However, one of the things we must remember as parents, is that divorce is a choice adults make, not children. And our job is to make sure that children of divorce still grow up with a strong sense of self, belonging, and consistency, regardless of the circumstances. It doesn’t matter how frequent or infrequently children have contact with their parents, they will always want to understand what parts of them are like their mom or dad. They feel like an unfinished puzzle at times, constantly looking for random pieces to make up the whole, giving them a clearer picture of themselves.
The Tortoise knows her father is handsome and well liked by his friends. She knows he has a good sense of humor, an excellent singing voice and was athletic. She knows all these things because I have told her many times over the years, reminding her of all the great things I love about who she is, a mixture of genetics, environment and nurturing. It’s important that she sees herself as the culmination of strengths, not weaknesses, and definitely not as a result of something lost. Any other opinion of her father or her relationship with him has been molded by the contact and interaction she has had with him directly.
My daughter also needs to have a sense of pride about her namesake, which is why I have made sure her relationship with her Uncle and three cousins stayed intact. There is a great deal of love and adoration between them, securing her opinion that being herself is perfect. She has no feelings of embarrassment that her last name is different than mine or her sister, The Hare, because she connects to both names. She is thankful to be related to such wonderful people as her Uncle, Aunt and three cousins. She is proud to say, “This is my family”. But she is just as proud to call DW her dad.
I think the best advice I can give to divorced parents, is to not make your pain your child’s.
Only your relationship is severed, not theirs. Their identity is forever tied to both of you, not just one of you. By being respectful of that, you will actually strengthen your relationship with your child because they will not feel like they have to pick sides or carry your emotional baggage. They will not be burdened with sorting through opinions but focus on truth by building their own relationship with each parent.