Going into my divorce, I knew there would be unknowns. There were unknowns I expected – being alone, missing the kids, revolving schedules, and losing some friends who felt like they had to choose. It’s been the unexpected fears that have caught me off guard. The fears I have for my kids that keep me up at night wondering if I did the right thing. Will I ever get over this? Will my kids? Will the fears just get easier to deal with? Here are five things I fear most for my daughters.
5 Kid Related Fears That Keep Me Up at Night Post-Divorce
1. Marriage is a total thumbs down. I know kids from divorced families who are now married and committed more than ever to make their marriage work. It’s when I hear my 17-year-old daughter say “I’m never getting married” that stings. Would she say that even if I were still married? Has she given up on marriage because I ruined her image of it? I’ve worked hard to show them happiness as a split family and what can become of having two households. I’d like to think I’ve taught them getting out of a bad marriage is better than staying in one, but has it been enough? Have I tainted their worldview of marriage?
2. A new mom is horrific. The new mom figure is currently my ex-husband’s new girlfriend. And, she is not horrific. She’s been great to my kids and I want my kids to like her. I need her to be good in their life. I expect us to all get along for the sake of our children. I hear about her beautiful new home, their fun shopping trips and the cool way she talks to her kids – all good signs she isn’t horrific. But what if the tables turn? What if they get attached and he leaves or she does? I don’t want my kid’s perception of a family to be ripped apart again.
3. A family unit is no more. One of the main reasons for my divorce guilt is the way it impacted my kid’s family unit. I had a vision of what a family was supposed to be. Divorcing completely changed that definition. It’s made all of us redefine what being a family means; what it looks like and how it interacts. I want my kids to realize a family is what you make of it. I don’t want them to be afraid to create their own definition or fear having a family at all.
4. Life lessons are not always obvious. When my kids pack for their dad’s on Thursday nights, it’s like developing a runway plan for a supermodel. They're decisions for five days of wardrobe changes, which audience they'll see and the cost of making the wrong choice. The Thursday night pack is usually a flashing reminder for me that “I am divorced and my kids have to move their world every five days because of it.” I’ve tried to teach my kids that packing is a lesson in planning ahead. I want them to know they need to think through things from start to finish instead of seeing something in only the right now. I want them to know they have to make decisions and move forward. I hope they’re able to see them for what they are worth even if at the time they seem horrible.
5. Memories will be forgotten. There was a time in my marriage I was happy. A time where I was exactly where I was supposed to be. We went on family outings like Christmas tree hunting the day after Thanksgiving. We had traditions like decorating the house for the holidays. We had simple joys like going to the grocery store on Sunday’s together. There are some good memories in the years before their world changed. I’m afraid they’ll be too worried to talk about them. I fear the pain of the divorce journey has shoved those thoughts too far out of reach. I’m constantly wondering how I can keep those memories alive when sometimes it hurts even me to talk about them.
What fears are you feeling for your kids? Any suggestions for coping with mine?