Jerks of Divorce
Experiencing a divorce causes your life, as well as the lives around you to be jerked in some way. You may have been caught by surprise or experienced reverberations you never imagined possible. If you have a child, he or she has also experienced jerks. A child’s world is turned upside down for a period of time when his or her parents divorce. When a child’s parents are not coping effectively with their divorce, the jerks are compounded.
Jerks can be experienced on several different levels. They can be physical or emotional. The word is also used to describe a person who acts like a jerk by behaving in self-serving ways. The waves of any of these jerks echo within us and around us. Consider the physical jerk of an auto accident. The body doesn’t stop just because the automobile did. The impact causes injury to the body, both internal and external. The black and blue of a bruise is a manifestation of physical trauma. The body asks for rest by aching, throbbing and burning. Healing is enhanced by treating the body with care and respect.
When a jerk is experienced emotionally, there are no such outward manifestations, at least not ones that are immediately visible to others. Those who experience emotional jerking are bruised psychologically. A divorce causes these types of jerks. If you are divorced, you know what this means. So does your child.
Many parents lose focus, at least initially, when they experience a divorce. To a degree, this is understandable. Divorce is difficult for everyone, but it is made more difficult for a child when parents become lost in their own world. These are the parents who are acting like jerks toward their child’s other parent. Those in relationships such as these come to anticipate the jerkiness. When this happens between a child’s parents, the child is caught in the middle. A child may feel compelled to take on responsibilities that belong in the adult world.
In a perfect world, a couple would know about each other’s backgrounds and childhood memories before having a baby. This alone does not guarantee a successful marriage, but it may help ease some of the stress of parenthood. When a couple don’t know each other well enough before a child is born, parenting is less likely to be a shared experience and this can create a divide in the relationship.
This is not to say that parenthood causes divorces. But when a strong bond does not exist between a husband and wife and a child is added to the family, the stress can place strain at a weak point in the marriage. The result may or may not end in divorce, and the impact may or may not cause anguish for the child. The difference is determined by how much energy the parents place on their disagreements with each other versus how cognizant they are of their own child’s needs.
When we move away from the love we share with others, we are presented with a challenge. This is the basis for The Divorced Parent’s Challenge: Eight lessons to teach children love and forgiveness. When you take the challenge and move right toward more positive emotion you are keeping your issues in your world. This will help you deal with your ex-spouse honestly and you will become a better parent as a result of this. If you are not able to do that, the animosity between you and your ex spouse will distract you from expressing your love to your child.
Children do not fail. They make mistakes. Parents also make mistakes. But we fail our children when their needs are disregarded and we fail them again if we do not work at treating every person in their life with respect. Once you commit yourself to doing the best possible job with your children, I predict you will have a greater sense of satisfaction in all aspects of your life.
Despite the disagreements that led to your divorce or the current status of your relationship with your child’s other parent, there is one thing you know you can both agree on. You both love your child. When you realize that you also both want happiness for your child, as well as for yourself, it will become more difficult to focus on the negative aspects of your failed marriage and easier to begin to focus on you and your child’s happiness. As soon as you do that, you will be rebuilding your life.
Inherent in this is also the realization that you do not need to obsess about the state of your ex-spouse’s life. When you do, you are further distancing yourself from love. This can close you off to finding someone new to share your love with. Where do you fall when you consider yourself as an individual who happens to be divorced and shares a child with someone you could not share happiness with? When you can answer this question, you will be better able to pause before you say or do something negative that might cause hardship for your child. And, you will open your own life up to the hopes and dreams that every single parent has for a fulfilling life for you and your child.
Perhaps the secret to happiness is to do what you say you are going to do. So you can start by saying you will work every day to maximize the love your child has in his or her life and then work even harder to make it happen. Love is the greatest gift we give our children and divorce will never change that. Accept the challenge today and move right. You and your child will be happier if you do this because witnessing your child’s joy is the greatest gift of all.
Cheryl Grabenstein was an RN for 20 years, focusing on maternal child education and program development. She has conducted stress management seminars and started one of the first health education programs in the country. She holds a Masters of Education in Counseling from George Mason University and is a member of the elite Johns Hopkins Fellows Program.
The Divorced Parent’s Challenge is Cheryl?s first book. She is planning seminars to help parents focus on her 8 principles of love and divorce and has started on her second book, Every Parent’s Challenge
Available on http://www.thedivorcedparentschallenge.com
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