Divorce is surprisingly full of amazing life skills and lessons that I hope to pass on to my children!
One of the primary roles of a parent is to teach children how to become decent human beings who can function independently when they become adults. Some of the lessons parents teach are through hands-on and verbal instruction, such as when I show my daughter how to bake a cake. Other lessons are taught by examples, such as the way we handle ourselves in difficult situations and the choices we make.
As a divorced mom, there is much that I hope my children can learn from me. I hope that the things I tell them and show them how to do will attach to them and permanently influence the decisions they make and people they become. I know they will encounter pain and disappointment in their lives, and there’s no way to avoid that.
What I hope, however, is that my mistakes help my children learn life and relationship skills.
1.Take your time! There’s plenty of love and life to live before you settle down in a serious relationship. Travel, try new things, become established, and know who you are and what you want out of life before becoming attached to someone else.
2. Be prepared to stand on your own two feet. The future holds no guarantees; therefore, we can’t plan on someone else being our source of financial support or the one who keeps everything together. We must take responsibility for educating and positioning ourselves for success!
3. Stay informed and involved. Partners often divvy up responsibilities because they trust one another and have differing skill sets. This can be a problem if we don’t have a good handle on how money is being spent, participate in decision making, or fully comprehend what we own and owe.
4. Marriage is a tremendous commitment. There is nothing wrong with dating many people to become in tune with our needs in a partner, and there’s also nothing wrong with taking our time to make sure a relationship is right! We should never marry because all our friends are at that stage because we want our turn at a dream wedding, or because we feel we will disappoint others if we don’t. The decision should be made because both parties cannot imagine spending the rest of their lives with anyone else!
5. Talk through everything first. No one should ever consider marriage until they’ve first discussed every major issue (e.g. having a family, religion, finances, political beliefs, and so on) and have a solid understanding of their partner’s stance on these issues. There should be no secret hope lingering to change a partner’s mind about a strongly-held belief, nor any “shock” about incompatibility at a later time if everything has been brought to the surface already.
6. Never stop dating. A relationship will only become mundane and tired if allowed to be. Time and routine will challenge the freshness of a relationship; but, it should be treated as a living thing that requires nurturing and attention to thrive. Never allow careers, children, or the daily grind to interfere with quality couple time to keep the bond strong!
7. Man and wife before mom and dad. When children come along, many parents begin to place their children at the center of the universe, neglecting the marital relationship. Parenting is very important, but the strength of the relationship will support parenting, and it’s important for kids to recognize the significance of marriage and see a healthy relationship in action.
8. Communicate through problems. Parents have a golden opportunity to demonstrate relationship skills to their kids. Whether mom and dad are married or divorced, kids will benefit from witnessing cooperation, taking responsibility for one’s actions, honesty, and fairness, among many other skills they will need in relationships. We can either show them how to manipulate, lie, and be petty, or how to exercise patience, respect, and decency.
9. How to pick up and go on. Life will include disappointments, including the possibility of divorce. When these unwanted times arrive, our kids can have more confidence in their ability to pull together to overcome their challenges because they’ve seen their parent do so! The example of persistence through adversity and not allowing hardship to harden the spirit is invaluable!
10. Agreeing to disagree. It’s important for kids to know that they won’t always agree with or be fond of everyone; yet, we can’t always escape disliked people. We all have had co-workers, neighbors, bosses, and even exes that we must interact with, even though we’d rather not. Our example can show kids that they can still accomplish what they need to under less than ideal circumstances.
11. Resourcefulness. Divorce is financially devastating, which prompts most of us divorced parents to become creative to solve our problems and maintain our needs. Life’s classroom, with mom as a teacher, can show a child how to make wise decisions with money, prioritize wisely, and make the best out of what’s available- great lessons to carry into adulthood!
12. Independence. Divorce forces most of us to change habits and wear new hats because of the disruption to our marriage. Whereas once there may have been another parent around to complete certain responsibilities, the shell is turned over, and there’s no more hiding from tasks we wouldn’t have normally done! Additionally, it can’t hurt for children to learn that they don’t have to have a romantic partner at all times to be happy, complete, or capable!
13. No one has the right to abuse you. Abuse comes in many forms including physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial. There is no excuse for abuse, and abuse is not love. We do not need to accept this behavior because we fear being alone, believe our perpetrator doesn’t mean it or will change, or feel that we deserve this treatment. Get out, get help, and accept only loving and respectful attention!
14. Don’t be afraid of failure. We all make mistakes, and they are not so much a sign of failure as they are an opportunity to learn, grow, and continually improve! Often, we don’t really improve unless we have been forced to re-think and re-do.
My greatest hope, as a divorced mom, is that my children can grow up to be happy and well-adjusted adults who can enjoy loving relationships. My history of divorce is not necessarily detrimental to this goal. In fact, divorce, and the challenges it has brought into my life have put me in a better position to teach my children more about strength, tenacity, and relationships! My mistakes may not only serve to help me become a better person but may also give my children an advantage in life!