My 12-year-old son LOVES Subway. Like way more than a normal person should. We were driving home from the doctor yesterday, just the two of us, and he, of course, asked if we could go to Subway for lunch. If I took him to Subway every time he asked we wouldn’t be able to pay our mortgage. So my first inclination was to brush it off.
But instead, I had an idea. See, I have a house full of boys, tween and teen age. Everything is always “fine.” All they seem to care about is video games and YouTube. I never know what’s actually going on in their world. So we made a deal. I would take him to Subway and he would tell me, for real, about his life and how he feels about it.
It was money well spent.
We talked about a lot of things but I only want to share one today. I asked him how he felt about the divorce. My divorce from his dad.
There are a lot of stages one goes through in the aftermath of a marriage dissolving. One of the hardest for me was worrying about my kids. How would this affect them? How would it affect their lives? I raged at my ex for putting them through this. I felt guilty for whatever part I played, wondering if I could’ve done more to spare them this pain, this split-life.
This was all before I found life coaching, of course. Nowadays I’m at peace with my divorce and everything that came with it. I’ve learned so many things about myself and how to have whatever life I choose regardless of my circumstances.
I don’t worry about my kids anymore. I know that everything happened exactly as it was supposed to and it all happened FOR them, not to them.
Divorce is neutral. I can make it mean whatever I want to.
But just because I know that, doesn’t mean my kids do. I’m very careful not to say anything negative about their dad in their presence. In the beginning that meant not saying anything about him or the divorce at all. We got into the habit and we’ve just never really talked about it. I let them work through everything on their own terms and think whatever they wanted to about it.
We’ve all gotten through the grief and pain. But my kids still have a split-life. They spend half the time with me, half the time with him. They go back and forth a lot. It affects them every single day. And I wondered what he thought about it all.
This is what my son told me when I asked him how he felt about the divorce: “My life is better because of the divorce. I have people in my life that I wouldn’t have had. I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t have had. If you didn’t get divorced my life would be completely different. I like my life like it is. I wouldn’t trade it.”
He could choose to hate being the child of divorce. He could hate switching back and forth. He could hate that he doesn’t have a “normal” life or a “normal” family. And most people would agree with him. But he’s chosen to focus on different things. He’s chosen what he wants to believe about his life.
Stop worrying about your kids.
They are having the exact experience they are supposed to have. Whatever it is. No matter how horrible you think it is. It’s part of their journey. They are so much more resilient than we give them credit for.
Instead, be the mom you want to be. I haven’t coached my son about the divorce. I haven’t told him how or what to think about it. But he has my example. He has watched me. He listens to how I talk about things. He sees what I’ve made the divorce mean and how happy I am with my life.
Worrying is an indulgent emotion. It doesn’t ever serve us. Ever. The best way for me to give my kids everything they need to be successful in life is to be the best me I can be. That’s it. I don’t need to worry about their futures. I don’t need to control their behavior. I don’t need them to follow my manual and do all the things I think they should do.
I just need to love them. It’s enough.