Around 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. It’s a statistic we all know really well, but there is an aspect of this statistic people don’t often consider. Often there are children involved. There also are many couples who have never married and have children before going their separate ways. When kids are involved and the relationship ends, families are tossed into the pool of learning how to parent in a whole new way. Unfortunately, couples who couldn’t see eye to eye in a relationship often don’t see eye to eye in parenting. So what is a parent to do? How does one parent survive the other parent’s vastly different parenting style or ideals?
The answer is found in humility. Humility is a churchy word to some, but what it really means is setting aside your agenda for the good of someone else.In this case, it’s the good of your children. Humility is not weakness. It takes a ton of bravery to be humble. Whether you like them or not, your ex is still your child’s parent. Your kids should never, ever have to choose between the two of you. Ever. In the middle, being made to choose allegiance, is a horrific place to put a kid. The kid didn’t cause the relationship to end. It’s already hard enough for kids to go between houses with different rules. Don’t make it harder for them by asking them – overtly or covertly – to choose between you. Here is what humility looks like practically.
Do not ever, under any circumstances, talk poorly about the other parent. I know this is easier said than done, especially when you’re hurting or angry. I can tell you, however, that is one of the things that is most awful for kids. They love the other parent and you’re saying terrible things about their mom or dad. It cuts to their souls. Stop it. You can vent to a friend if you need to – I’m not advocating stuffing emotion. You can journal. You can punch a pillow. You can see a counselor. What you cannot do is talk trash about your ex to your kids.
I can hear some of you now, “But my ex talks trash about me to our kids all the time!” I get it. And it’s awful for your ex to do that. This is where humility really has to come in to play. You have to swallow your need for vindication and not talk trash back to your kids. If your ex is telling blatant lies to your kids about you there are ways to refute that appropriately if needed, but not by saying, “Well your mom/dad is a big, fat, jerk-face liar!”
Your humility in these situations really will pay off. Your kids will be healthier for it. You will be healthier for it – bitterness and anger are like a cancer that takes over your soul. Don’t go there. Take a deep breath and be humble.
I get that this is hard to do. If you are dealing with a difficult parenting situation, I’m here to help. Together we can find ways for you and your kids to thrive. Don’t go it alone.