The Worst Divorce Advice I’ve Ever Heard
This is a piece of divorce advice from one divorced man to another:
“Separate yourself as fast as you can. Limit your contact as much as you can. With kids it’s tough but try not to communicate. Trust me. Just move on and move on fast.”
Honestly, reading this guy’s advice made me sad, depressed, and angry, and left me with a feeling of hopelessness. Here’s why:
When men and women get divorced, it’s very understandable that they don’t want to talk to each other for several reasons. Tensions are high, anger and resentment are ever present, and the feelings of shock, hurt, anxiety and fear are at their highest. They basically want the other person out of their life.
The problem is, if the couple divorcing have kids, they can’t just live as strangers, or their children will suffer greatly. By “separating yourself as fast as you can,” you are deeply hurting your kids, who like all children of newly separated parents are traumatized enough as it is.
Getting divorced is something that adults have to realize means being SELF-less and means sucking it up and having a relationship that is cordial (at the least) to meaningful and productive as far as co-parenting in a best case scenario. This guy needs to remember that his children need him more than ever, so if he separates himself fast, his children will be deeply touched by it in a negative way.
Limit contact? Uh, I don’t think so. I have to hope he wasn’t referring to his kids, but even limiting contact with the wife could have a negative affect on the kids. The bottom line is, he needs to be around whenever the kids need him, especially at the beginning, and if that means seeing the soon-to-be ex wife, (since she is most likely going to be around the kids) then so be it.
Couples who because of selfish attitudes won’t communicate with each other (even about the children) end up with kids who don’t feel a unity in their parent’s opinions, which I believe is very unhealthy. Even if the parents aren’t living in the same house, having the kids live by the same rules in each house is crucial in a child’s upbringing.
For example, homework hours, amount of permissible time on electronics, bathing habits and bedtime should be the same at both houses. This promotes structure, a regimen, and discipline, and kids thrive in this kind of environment. If parents refuse to talk to each other, it is impossible to implement this kind of schedule.
Move on and move on fast?? It seems to me that this guy is telling this other guy not to grieve the breakup. That he should run from it and not let himself feel the heartbreak and the sorrow that is happening in his life. If he moves on too fast, he will not heal. He will most likely rush into another relationship, or pick up some other negative coping mechanism (alcohol, drugs, gambling, excessive work, etc.) which will lead to problems down the road for him–it’s like covering up a wound that needs stitches with a Band-Aid.
The bottom line is, if this guy takes the other guy’s advice and treats his soon-to-be ex wife like a cab driver treats a customer, everyone will suffer: the kids, the wife, the divorce process (it will go more slowly) and the guy himself.
Here’s the thing. I have written about the importance of treating a divorce like a business deal, and I think that is a very smart approach. Taking emotion out of financial decisions and what you think is best for your kids makes sense.
That said, remember that there is a huge human element to a divorce, which makes it unhealthy to “move on fast,” or “limit contact” or “separate yourself as fast as you can.” There is no good breakup. Everyone is walking away hurt, angry, scared and though I hate to say it, maybe a little bitter.
It takes a long time (sometimes years) to learn how to live with it, and the only way to get to a really good place is to let yourself process it, grieve it, and that usually means sticking around for a little bit. I’m not saying the guy should be at his soon-to-be ex’s house for dinner every week or call her 7 nights a week, but running away and pretending it didn’t happen is never a healthy option for anyone in the family.
It’s not easy to have a relationship with your ex. Any divorced person will say that. But the ones who do the right thing, who develop a relationship with their ex that they know benefits the kids are the ones whose kids have a chance of coping/adapting better. And, they themselves end up happier because they know they are handling it in a positive, productive way. Those are the ones who possess self-love that perpetuates a happier, new life that they feel good about.
The choice is yours and it’s pretty simple.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially” for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.
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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.