No doubt about it, separation and divorce are ‘dirty’ words. Society still tells us that children are negatively affected by it… we’ve all heard the ‘broken home’ comments…right?
Spend time on Google and you’ll find a plethora of articles guilt tripping you into thinking you’ve screwed your children for life. But let me assure you, you haven’t. Deep breaths Mumma. What’s happened has happened, for whatever reason, and I want you to know that with the right support and plenty of love your kids WILL be ok.
My parents separated when I was 17 and guess what… I’m a normal, well adjusted, happy and POSITIVE person. Did I learn some serious life lessons, you bet! But I am who I am today because of it and I wouldn’t change that for anything. It was much the same story for my kids. They too are doing just fine, despite what these catastrophising articles tell me will happen to them.
I feel compelled to share the BRIGHT side of separation and divorce. Why? Because deep in my heart I genuinely feel pain for those who choose to stay in toxic environments purely because they’ve been convinced it’s the lesser of two evils for their children.
So, here we go… 5 ways my children have thrived post separation…
They have a great sense of what behaviours they should and should not accept
I’m an empathetic heart centred Mumma, deep in the feels. I feel them all so I am always talking to my kids about respect, boundaries, loyalty, honesty and self-love. Sometimes, if I’m truly honest, I probably ‘overdo it’! Haha. But to me, emotional intelligence is HUGELY under recognised in modern society. Since my separation 5 years ago my kids have learnt so much. A lot because of what I’ve chosen to teach them and, unfortunately, a lot because I’ve had to teach them. Regardless, I can see how far they’ve come because of these lessons. They are both respectful, polite young kids who know right from wrong, they know that people should be equal and that no one should abuse another and, they also realise that we have social and moral codes to adhere to. Had we not separated I’m 100% confident they wouldn’t be who they are today.
They are extremely resilient
Changes, obstacles, financial limitations, logistical nightmares, last minute hiccups and all manner of interruptions...urgh! Often these are just completely unavoidable. My kids have had to deal with them all over the last 5 years and let me tell you, they aren’t worried. I talk them through situations, I explain what things mean, I give them an honest ‘why’ and I tell them the (age appropriate) truth. Children aren’t stupid, insulting their intelligence by withholding reality is detrimental to their sense of security. Am I saying share it all… uh no. Common sense is still required! But yes, because of our separation the children are able to cope with more and not melt down. They are learning life skills that will see them continue to thrive!
They are happy patiently working towards a goal
As a single parent things often take longer to achieve. Sometimes due to a lack of help, skills or time and sometimes due to financial limitations. I don’t sugar coat it, sometimes it can be really challenging. BUT… in our family we set goals. Travel goals, savings goals… even simple things like reading goals. We never complain or use our single parent status to stay stuck in a negative mindset. I personally have an attitude of “How can I make this happen”… I never say “I can’t” or “We can’t”. We live with a GROWTH MINDSET! We get creative and we just hustle for what we want! My kids have learnt that things we work hard for mean soooooo much more.
They know the importance of team work
Look really, I’m sure they already did but circumstances certainly have reinforced the lesson. My kids help around the house, no complaining (mostly!) and they just know that as a family member, it is expected of them. They don’t get pocket money for doing everyday things like making their bed or emptying the dishwasher. And… they know that in order for the house to run smoothly they have to help. One parent simply cannot do it all! As a result of this my son is learning to use the lawn mower, my daughter is learning about how to clean bathrooms (because she loves doing it.. I know, weird!) and really they are both just stepping up! This stuff is important and it’ll help them in the future. And I guess finally, the other thing… possibly the most important… the kids feel like they have something to offer! They feel useful and of value which boosts their self-confidence. What a gift to give our kids right?!
They have strong empathetic hearts
No doubt about it this is one of the things I’m most proud of post separation. My kids have a kind heart. They care deeply about others and they recognise feelings when they feel them themselves or see them in others. I’ve taught them about different family structures and deeply implanted in them the importance of accepting all types of people. Through my own actions I’ve helped them understand that kindness and tolerance are what warm our hearts. I’ve taught them that we choose to be bitter or better because of our life journey. As a team, every single day… we choose better!
If you’re a single mum or someone considering taking steps to leave your relationship please trust me when I say, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Finally, despite what other articles will tell you, your kids probably won’t have severe mental health issues, they probably won’t drop out of school and they almost certainly won’t become criminals. And you know what… if any of this does happen… it likely won’t be because of you or your relationship status. Don’t be sucked in and destroyed by all the articles out there telling you you’ll ruin your child’s future by ‘breaking up’ their home. To anyone wondering…. my home isn’t broken. It’s just perfect thanks! My kids and I are healthy, happy and WHOLE! Separation has changed their lives for the better and I’ll have no one tell me different.
I hope this article helps those who need it. If you’ve enjoyed it you may also enjoy my article 10 Things I’ve Learnt As A Single Mum and Telling The Kids You’re Separating… What To Consider. If you would like some support around separation you can reach out to me here. As always, I’d love it if you would share this article with someone you know and love. Sharing these articles helps more people find She Counselling and thus, get the support they want.
Until next week...
Yours in better mental health,
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!