Divorce is hard and messy. A couple that loved each other very much at one time can turn into two ugly monsters that border the line of disdain and even hate. Add children to that recipe and that monster will eventually infect them. It will cause confusion, hurt, anger, depression, doubt, and will shape who they become.
I have experience in both of these areas. I come from a divorced family, and I am currently going through a divorce myself. Our two boys have had to walk through a life that has been turned upside down. It was a struggle at first. Bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rage… it was all consuming early on in my separation, and it greatly affected our children. But, somehow, the tides started to change.
We started putting our own feelings aside and instead put our boys feelings first. We began to co-parent effectively and respectfully. Our boys were able to see that even though their parents were no longer together, they still loved them very much and would do whatever it took to still be a united front for them. Was it easy? Absolutely not. It definitely took some trial and error, grace, and lots of forgiveness. Is it still perfect? No, and it may never be. However, that doesn’t stop us from trying every day to do what is in the best interest of our boys together.
Some of you may have had a similar experience, but I also know some of you have not. So, I want to share some wisdom and advice. I’m not a psychologist by any means, but I am a mom working through navigating my children through this trial and have witnessed the other side of when parents are toxic toward one another. So lets begin..
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing.Psalm 127:3 (GNB)
Children are a gift from the Lord. Think back to the day where you first held your child in your arms. The feeling of unconditional love that washed over you, and the vow that you would let nothing ever harm him or her as long as you lived. Do you remember that special day?
Now ask yourself… are you protecting your children from harm if you and your ex are constantly at battle? That may be a difficult truth to swallow. You might be even trying to justify your reasons right now as you read this, but I ask you to really stop and ponder this question.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.Proverbs 12:15 (ESV)
If your goal is to always be right then you will never get anywhere with your communication. You will be too busy planning your next move and not enough time listening. This style of communication is a perfect storm for reasoning and compromise to go straight out the door. My advice is to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry ( James 1:19). Make sure your intention is coming from the right place and not your own selfish ego or your desire to hurt the other person.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.Ephesians 4:31-32 (GNB)
Leave the past in the past because it can not be changed. I found that alot of the bitterness and anger I had was from the past hurts from my marriage itself. Words were shared that literally cut to my very core and I was also guilty of it too. My tongue was sharp, and I have significant remorse for it. It is difficult to swallow your pride and to stop pointing fingers. It is difficult to put someone else’s needs before your own especially someone that you haven’t forgiven. Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us that we are to forgive. We are to get rid of all those ugly feelings towards the other person and make the choice to be kind and sensitive to them. We must be willing to forgive and remember that we all have sinned, are far from perfect, and yet, He forgives us.
The above pictures were taken at our son’s birthday. We all were together. We all took pictures together. This is what’s best for children. This is how children continue to thrive.
Stop the hate, stop the battles, stop the revenge. Forgive one another and parent together your precious children.
If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.1 John 4:20