Divorce. Protect the Kids, They’ll Thank You.

Retro MomThose of you out there who have children will agree with me that raising your child has to be one of the most rewarding, yet difficult things you’ll ever do.  We all know how stressful bringing up children can be when you are married, but it is just as difficult, and at times even more so, when you and your spouse get divorced.    

Having been divorced for over five years now and raising an eleven-year-old child, I have developed my own tricks of the trade for raising children with your ex-spouse.  These tricks do not always involve drinking a box of wine, eating an entire bag of peanut butter cups and counting to 10 very slowly (okay, sometimes 100!) It is not always perfect but there are ways in which to make it easier for both you and your ex and more importantly, for your children. 

 Here is my own David Letterman “Top Ten List” for raising children with an ex spouse.  Well, it is actually a “Top Five List,” but who’s counting?

 Tip Number 1 – Put yourself in your child’s place ALL THE TIME –       The most important thing that you need to remember is the well-being of your child. He/she did not choose the decision you made to get divorced, so he/she should never suffer the aftershocks of it as either.  Before you say or do something that involves your ex, think about it from your child’s point of view and put yourself in his/her place.  Always remember that there are consequences for your actions.

 Tip Number 2 – No Monkey in the Middle!   –     Your child should never be in the middle of any argument between you and your ex.  It is very important to NEVER use your child as a pawn to make the other one upset.  You must put your differences aside (and trust me, you will have them) and ALWAYS put your child first!

 Tip Number 3 – Leave the boxing gloves at home! –  If you run into issues where you and your ex do not see eye-to-eye, then find a convenient time when your child is not around to talk about them.  Try to find a time when your child is in school, asleep, or even while he/she is outside playing.  You can take those opportunities to work out your differences, and try to come to an agreement without the chance of your child overhearing. 

Take the gloves off, in front off the kids

Take the gloves off, in front off the kids

 Tip Number 4 – If you cannot say anything nice then do not say anything at all – This is one that I feel is very important.  You should never talk ill of your ex-spouse in front of your children.  It does not matter how upset they make you or how furious you are with them, you always need to take the high road.  Your son/daughter needs to develop his or her own relationship with each of you, and berating each other only hurts you, and ultimately, your child.

 Tip Number 5 – Try to put yourself in your ex’s shoes – This tip has definitely helped me in times of turmoil.   It is common for both married and divorced couples to disagree on different areas of raising the children.  Heck, plenty of couples argue about everything from what kind of shoes to buy the kids to which colleges they should apply.  But, it’s important–whether married or divorced– to presented a united front.  You are always going to have differences of opinion, the key is to consider your ex’s point of view.  If you can have a healthy relationship with your ex, in the end, it will benefit everyone. 

Again, your child didn’t choose your spouse and the split certainly wasn’t your child’s fault, so they should never have to suffer for those decisions.   Once you have that mindset in place, chances are it will make things much easier for everyone…and your child will thank you down the road.  Mine has…

Divorce cartoon

My son drew these.

Divorce Cartoon 2

Kids notice everything

 

Do you come from a broken home, or are you a divorced mom?  I’d love to hear how you handled the turmoil with your kids or how your own upbringing affected your adult relationships.  Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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Potty Training; The Dirty (Diaper) Truth

My personal potty training method was honed early on with the oldest of my four children. It was a gorgeous day at the zoo. I had my newborn in the babybjorn, as my two year old hopped happily in and out of the stroller, to explore. My feeling of accomplishment at having gotten myself, and two tiny children dressed, fed, and out of the house, unraveled the moment my daughter announced “I have to go potty!” I can’t remember who the reckless individual was who had told me that at two years old I had to start potty training my daughter, but there I was, smack in the middle of the vast zoo, the nearest bathroom a ½ mile away. I already knew at this point that when a toddler tells you they have to go potty, you are moments away from being too late. I was never much of an athlete growing up, but if they had a category for sprinting mother with stroller and Bjorn, I would have won a medal on that day!

World's Greatest Mom Medal

I earned THIS baby!

I ignored the stares as I ran and shouted in my motherese, “Just hold on sweetie, we’re almost there. Hold it in. Hold it in!” Trying to look cool and collected is one of the first things to go when you become a mother, so I didn’t care what anyone thought of my maniacal dash, as long as we made it to the bathroom in time. The smell of the public bathroom hit me as we squeezed through the door. I hastily tried to put toilet paper over the crusty seat with one hand, while I helped my daughter pull down her pants with the other, newborn baby dangling perilously above the toilet in the meantime. As I hoisted her onto the seat one of the strips of protective paper slipped in, her bare bottom resting on the filthy seat, but we had no time. When you are potty training they stress that you are not to rush the child, or raise your voice, lest you traumatize them, and destroy all progress, possibly ruining potty training for life. They never mention how traumatized you will be as you are crammed in a dirty toilet stall, newborn hanging upside-down in the babybjorn like a trapeze artist, as you lean over to hold your toddler from falling into a germ ridden, gaping grown up toilet. The fact that the baby is now screaming, and the toddler touches the toilet seat with her hands while you hold her in place, heightens the drama. Then you wait, because, sometimes you just have to patiently wait for them to go. It was there in that smelly germ infested bathroom, that I made my decision. The potty training ended. As traumatized as I was by that episode, six months later, I decided to try again. All of my friends were potty training their children by two and a half, and there seemed an urgent need by society that I should be too. My method was sealed by that second try, when my now crawling baby made his way over to the tiny full plastic potty on the floor. The one that I was helping my daughter get up from. He grabbed the lip of the bowl and splashed it over the rim, all over himself. In my apoplectic fit that followed, I decided then and there, that I would rather change a dirty diaper any day, on my own terms, in a clean, calm & safe environment, than suffer through the tribulations of potty training. From that moment on I never had to deal with mad sprints, wet spots on my new couch, a miniature toilet in the back of my car, or the multitude of daily clothing changes that I watched other mother’s go through. Although each of my kids had different time frames, in the end they never seemed to be too far behind their peers. When they did get out of diapers, emotionally and physically ready, they made the switch instantly, trauma free for all of us.

What do you think is the right age for potty training?  Do you think there even is a “right” age, or do you think your child will let you know when he/she is ready?  I’d love to hear your stories, tips, tricks and questions in our comment section below!

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