Letting Go – The Reality of Divorce . . . and Life

Perhaps it will seem strange at first for me to say this, but putting your child’s needs before your own after divorce includes letting go. When I talk about letting go, I’m not referring to letting go of the love and bond you have with your child or letting go of the responsibilities you have to your children, etc. What I’m referring to are the helpful ways to let go while your child is with their other parent.

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You see, once you get divorced, you typically lose the type of leverage you had when married. When you were married, you had some say about your preferences regarding what your child did and didn’t do, and when they did or didn’t do it. Once divorced, your Ex may not care one bit about your preferences which leaves you with little or no leverage in these matters.

One of the greatest challenges in divorce is learning to let go and letting the other parent make decisions that affect your children’s lives without your input. Yet, giving up your ability to impact the other parent’s decisions is critical to creating a healthy post-divorce relationship with your former spouse or partner. At the same time, it is also important to build a foundation with your former partner or spouse so you are open to working through your disagreements. Sometimes, a former spouse is simply unwilling to work in partnership with his/her Ex; it is in those times when letting go becomes a deep spiritual practice.

If you and your spouse are willing to talk about how to navigate decision-making, then here are some helpful suggestions to lay a healthy foundation moving forward.

  1. Determine which issues you absolutely want to decide together. This usually includes things such as educational decisions, non-emergency health care decisions, etc.
  2. Determine which issues you want to discuss, but when the children are with you each of you decides independently. This may include things such as whether a child stays home from school.
  3. Determine which issues you each decide and don’t need to discuss. This may include things such as which foods your children eat or when your children go to bed.
  4. If any issue does not matter to you, let it go. If one parent really cares about something, such as health care providers, and the other parent really does not care, don’t fight about it. Choose your battles wisely.
  5. Ask yourself, why am I fighting about this; what is so important to me? Be honest with yourself. Are you fighting because you are angry about something else with your former? If so, talk about that.
  6. Grieve. Letting go of decisions that affect your children’s lives is extremely difficult at anytime in a child’s life. You yearn to play a meaningful role in your child’s life and to be involved in decisions from the mundane to the ones that really matter, but in divorce, you lose some of your influence and power. Give yourself the time to grieve and mourn this loss. Be gentle with yourself AND with your former spouse. This is not easy.

If you and your Ex are unable to work together and your former spouse/partner is making decisions that you do not agree with, this is where the rubber meets the road. This, my friends, is when you really need both a deep spiritual practice to guide and support you through this as well as the compassionate guidance and support of a professional (and friends). It becomes critical, at times such as these, to remember the sacred covenant you made with yourself and your child so that your hurt, anger and grief are not driving your decision-making and interfering with what is genuinely best for your child.

If you are interested in gaining support and skills to help you parent with your Ex so your children are kept out of the emotional crossfire, please click here to get the program recording from April 16th.

In Support ~

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