How to raise children after an ugly divorce

As I remember back to when I was about 20, I would dream of being married, creating fine details in my mind. Everything from the white fence surrounding the house, to the front porch with rocking chairs you could watch the sunsets, the number of kids I would have, the type of dog, and the places we would travel together. 

I did get married when I was 27 and it good. We lived in a nice house in a great neighborhood, we had awesome friends, we had thriving careers, we bought a dog, and to me everything was going as planned. You know checking off things on my list I had created back when I was younger. Check. Check. Check.

About 3 years into our marriage, we packed up and moved to Texas due to a job transfer. We didn’t know a single soul, had no family, but were excited for some strange reason. Maybe a new start. Unfamiliarity. Change of environment. Different culture. Well, we adapted, found a house, my two older kids started school, and we were on our way to learning the area as well as making new friends.

I also about this time we found out I was 6 months pregnant with my twins…WHAT?!?! Yes, a move, new house, all day construction workers, a dog, new doctors, new schools, and now a pregnancy. Surprise twins! This is where I really believe God had a sense of humor. All I could do was laugh and smile. Okay God you know what you’re doing, I do not, and I trust you.

For lack of not writing a book here, although that is on my list, lets fast forward to many years later into our marriage (year 7). Mental, physical, and financial abuse started, trust was broken, feelings hurt, and I was miserable. Many prayers went up, what seemed like thousands of tears came down, and I just knew something had to change. I consulted with many friends and my family knew what I was dealing with, it was so difficult. Thank God for his gratefulness. I was broken, ashamed, and lonely.

Four children, full time job, no local family, and all I had were a few great friends. I was scared and couldn’t see past the next day as far as feeding my kids, paying for the house, and taking the load of all the bills alone. I leaned on church family for support as well and prayers from family members from afar. The Lord was so good to us during these times in helping me to keep my faith and hope alive. Each day we had what we needed and were never without.

I knew we would be okay but it was my children who really struggled. I felt for them, prayed over them, stumbled over words to find to help them through such a difficult time. If you have been through a divorce or are going through one now, then you can relate. Its difficult to find words to comfort, soothe, and even explain how something good could come out of something so bad. As a mother, I was my least concern at this time and focused my energy on them and how to help them cope.

Let me encourage you with a few things that really helped my children through this season of life and what helped me also come to terms with our situation.

  1. Children understand more than we think they do– talk to them and when you think they are old enough to comprehend the situation, don’t lie about it.
  2. Honesty is key– referring back to number one, telling the truth is always best.
  3. Allow children to voice their opinion of the situation– everyone has an opinion. Children should be encouraged to voice theirs through the process. They may need to speak with a counselor or a family member, but need to have that space to open up.
  4. Everyone heals differently– children no matter what age, will grieve a little differently from an adult. Many of them are just trying to be a kid, figure out who they are, or they may be struggling as a teen, (and we know that can be a struggle in itself), so let them heal however they feel they need to. As long as it’s healthy and they are not rude in the process.
  5. Don’t take it personal if they lash at you– Now, one of my children took the divorce very hard. He started being disobedient at school, at home, and mistreating his brothers and sisters. At first, they did not see their father for 6 months due to the abuse and a restraining order. He was only six years old and couldn’t express his fears and concerns appropriately so this was how he adjusted. Remember every child will be different and I just made sure I spoke to him in little bits as opposed to large conversations.
  6. Encourage them to be around other divorced children– other children can be a source of encouragement to your child and actually help them. After all, thats how we heal as mothers right? We encourage each other, and share stories of hope and healing.
  7. Don’t rush them– eventually my child who was taking it hard came around. The school counselors we’re made aware of the situation and would speak to him occasionally through the process. (with permission of course.) It took him about 3 years as he slowly adjusted. Patience is important.
  8. Let others know what you’re going through- Family and friends need to know that you have filed or are going through divorce because trust me you are going to need the support. Also, so they can be supportive to the children. Check on them, pick them up for a park date, an ice cream cone, or just a drive for fresh air and talk. That really meant a lot to me to have my kids loved on by others because I couldn’t do it alone. I was exhausted physically and mentally most days. Don’t forget you are healing as well, so don’t feel guilty asking for help.
  9. Love them– no matter what at the end of the day let them know you love them, support them, and are there for them unconditionally. Children really need to not only hear this but see this. You are pulling yourself together for yourself, but remember you have kids to raise who are looking to you for guidance and support.
  10. Seek professional help- if you really feel like you need help for your children or yourself, don’t be ashamed. Ask. I went to our church for help with one of my little ones during a difficult season and it was a big help. Not to mention I couldn’t afford to invest a lot at this time. They sat with us, prayed, and it gave him someone else to speak to other than his mother. Don’t get it wrong, our kids love us but sometimes they do better with a professional. I know seeking help saved us and allowed the both of us to openly talk about it as a family. They were also able to give me an insight on what he was thinking and ways to help him cope.

My prayer is that any women reading this will feel hope and be encouraged through this post. God has a plan. You have to believe that every day and speak it into your children as well.

Friend, know that I am praying for you.

I’d love to hear from you and welcome any comments below or feel free to email me:

Tyra Greene- email

tyragreene4@gmail.com

Blessings

 

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