For those that have visited me and know me, you all know that I am divorced. It's not a secret. You also know that I have kids with my ex. What I have not openly shared is that he and I have very different lives, and when the kids are at each of our homes, they also have very different lives.
This has not made for an ideal situation for the kids. It has hindered them socially, academically and in some ways emotionally, but in order for them to have normalcy it means that either I live my life according to the rules of my ex, or vice versa. I can assure you, neither is going to happen, although I have often thought that giving in would be the lesser of two evils for the sake of the kids, even though it would mean giving up my own sanity.
Divorce is selfish by necessity when you think about it. No matter what, someone gets hurt. If it isn't you, then it is your kids and if it isn't your kids, then it is your ex, but in the end, someone has to pay the price. The question is, who can adjust the best?
Whose sanity should be saved? I have always felt that if I lose my sanity, then I won't be able to protect the children when they need me, and then what happens? So, I chose to keep my sanity and in turn, they sacrifice, and it eats away at me every single minute of every single day, but the price that I would have to pay in turn appears greater in the end. I often wonder it if really is.
The thing about divorce is there are no real answers to any of the questions; it's a hit or miss game. You don't know what the outcome is going to be to all of the life-altering decisions you are making until you reach each milestone in your journey. You make these choices when going through the process of the who gets the what, when, where and how much without the magical powers of ESP to show you what the children will feel like at age thirteen or sixteen or at puberty or when they are dating or driving and your determinations for them could be all wrong in the end.
For anyone who has been in this situation, it is all murky water. None of us can know what it will be like for our children when as they grow up in two separate homes, especially when those homes are so incredibly different -- such as my ex-husbands and mine -- but we just have to muddle through. If there were a handbook it would be a bestseller, but there can't be, because every person and child is unique and different and the book would have to be a bazillion pages long.
So what do I do to appease the guilt that I carry around that the children will miss out on so many things? I talk to them and explain to them that they have a voice and they can use that voice to talk to their father. I talk to them and explain to them that we (he and I) decided what was best for them and this was it, but if they wanted something different, they could always ask either of us for it and we would listen (at least I would) and discuss it (at least I would) and not dismiss them (at least I would not). I teach them that sometimes life isn't fair, but life is what you make it and if you want it to change, you have to make that change happen for yourself and that in this instance, when it comes to socializing, they have to advocate for their own change.
Is this the best way to deal with the issues? I don't really know, I just know it's how I am dealing with the selfish side of divorce children. How are you dealing with it?
Follow Lee Block on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LeeBrochstein