Ending a marriage is one of the hardest things you can go through. If you have children, there are additional layers of worry— does your split mean you’ve failed as parents? Irreparably harmed your kids? You may be afraid that you won’t know how to go it alone and manage single parenthood or co-parenting as a divorced couple.
Amidst your grief and pain, it’s natural to have these fears. It takes time to process it all.
But take heart. Although single parenting isn’t easy, many divorced moms and dads report that separation and raising kids solo made them better parents.
You’ve been through the worst—here are nine essential ways your split can impact your parenting for the better.
If your household during your marriage was a cold war or an active battleground, divorce might bring a measure of relief, allowing you to find greater peace and calm and parent from that place within yourself. Single parenting has many logistical and emotional challenges, but it can be easier than trying to do it while living with a spouse with whom you’re in constant conflict. When the initial storm subsides, people often report they’re less stressed and find a sense of relaxation, freedom, and reclaimed joy that positively impacts their kids.
Focus and Presence
Maybe your spouse was too demanding, expectations overwhelming, or you felt consumed by unhappiness—a troubled marriage can swallow up so much time, energy, and mental space that it’s difficult to give your children the focus you want to. As you settle into single-/co-parenting, you may find you have more significant resources of attention and presence to devote to your kids and that your emotional reserves become replenished.
More Conscious Parenting
Divorce can promote more conscious parenting in numerous ways.
- The turmoil of a family splitting up means you need to concentrate on your kids’ mental health. There’s no simple fix for grief, and you can’t rush it, but you can be there for them, hold space for the range and stages of their feelings, and offer crucial support.
- Important choices about your children’s upbringing—education, religion, healthcare—that may have been put off or left to default demand conscious attention and clarity in a custody agreement and co-parenting arrangement. You’re forced to zero in on your values and resolve issues.
- Shared custody can make you more aware of the preciousness of every moment you have with your kids; more tuned in, mindful, productive, and joyful in the time you spend together.
Children benefit from watching how parents process disappointment and heartache and face unexpected change with resilience. You’re demonstrating that people can move through hardship and complicated feelings, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and thrive.
Many single parents say they never really knew how strong they were—in practical ways and psychological ones—and what they could manage on their own until their divorce. These successes can empower you with more confidence in yourself and your parenting abilities.
Even when you’re knocking it out of the park as a single parent, it’s nearly impossible to do it all on your own. You may find these new circumstances are an opportunity to teach your children to be team players and take an active role in managing home and family life. Things run more smoothly when everyone pitches in. And it’s never too early—studies show that involving toddlers and young children in household chores not only teaches responsibility and vital life skills but improves their wellbeing into adulthood.
Observing how you navigate the financial challenges of divorce and separate households can teach important lessons about managing money, budgeting priorities, and the value of work.
Whether it’s exercise, meditation, reading for pleasure, journaling, a relaxing bath, eating right, getting enough sleep, getting outdoors or hanging out with friends, self-care is essential in challenging times (and always) and in keeping your batteries charged as a single parent. Model this vital practice for your children.
There are countless skills learned or honed through a divorce that serve you well in parenting and set good examples for your children: cooperation, compromise, diplomacy, working through things respectfully, setting boundaries, choosing battles, making difficult choices and aligning your life with your values.
You will get through this and come out stronger—the best parent you can be.
The family law experts at SFLG can guide you through the challenges of divorce and custody issues. Custody, visitation, and child support require the knowledgeable, compassionate, and responsive representation Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., provides.