A wise man or woman once said ‘A leopard can’t change its spots’- while so true, when it comes to managing your life, particularly your children after a divorce it is the perfect time to try and repaint those spots! If life wasn’t difficult enough before your separation now you no doubt have less time to yourself, more things to fit in and no-one to assist you when you just can’t be in 3 places at once.
There is no perfect solution to the many challenges faced by single parents but these 3 tips can help-
1. Focus on yourself and not your former partner.
Traditional legal processes, particularly the Court process, will by their very nature force you to focus on your former partner, particularly any of their wrongdoings. You cannot change the actions of your former partner but you can control and change your own actions and reactions. Focus your attention on what you are doing in any given situation and whether there is a better way that you could approach it. As the saying goes “there are many ways to skin a cat”. Not a particularly pleasant saying but the concept is correct. There may be times where you feel boxed into a corner and with very few options. Sometimes stepping away from the situation and taking the time to consider how you could act or react differently can be enough to change a situation. If you can focus your attention on what you are doing, rather than what your former spouse is doing wrong, this will help you to move through this difficult period more quickly. I expect that you and your partner did not always agree on things when you were together, so don’t be surprised when you still cannot agree after your separation!
2. Focus on the good, not the bad.
It is so easy to find things that are wrong in any given situation and yet at times so difficult to find the things that are right. When you feel that things are becoming really tough, stop, pause and think about two things that are going right. They might be simple things, like your son or daughter has received a good school report or did well in an activity or reached a new milestone. It is important to always be reminding yourself of the small successes in amongst what you sometimes feel are many failures. If you can turn your mind to the positives and the things that are going right, the things that you may have thought were going wrong will start to pale in significance.
3. Be flexible
Parenting in an intact happy relationship is hard work. Every day parents are shifting their own lives to try and ensure their children are given every opportunity to pursue their dreams and live their lives to the full. You have to be flexible as a parent as things often seem to go slightly off course when kids are involved. Nothing will change after your separation other than it is perhaps more difficult to manage the unexpected. Don’t be afraid to be flexible and show understanding if your partner asks for variations to your parenting arrangements. You will no doubt need the same in return one day. Of course if this starts to happen every Friday night it might be time to meet and discuss whether the arrangements are still working for your family.
The end of a relationship no matter how it has arisen will bring with it a flurry of emotion most of all grief and loss. If you are in the throes of a separation or divorce try and take time out for yourself and don’t be afraid to seek professional advice. Working day in and day out with separating families the one thing I hear all the time from my clients is that over time, things just start to ‘get better’. It will take time. As Marilyn Monroe once said- “Sometime good things fall apart so that better things can fall together”.
Keep your chin up, things will get better.