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DK Says.......

January 27, 2008
Should I Stay in my Marriage Because of the Kids?
I am often approached with questions about how do you know if it's time to get divorced.  More specifically, I'm even more often time asked if I think people should stay together for the kids' sake?  My answer usually is something like "it depends."  But, more often than not, the answer is absolutely not.  I often think of the age-old question of would you have a baby to save your marriage, or make the marriage better?  Most people say no, of course not.  Adding the stress of a baby is not going to save a marriage, in fact it is likely to make it more difficult.  So, then I ask the question, is adding the stress of a crumbling marriage going to make you a better parent?  Absolutely not.  Usually.  If you are fortunate enough that the romance has just died and you are not launching nightly cannons and going for the jugular in your arguments, then MAYBE, it might seem reasonable to stay.  However, more often than not, even if things are smoothe sailing at first, eventually someone wants to move forward with their life and the nice agreements don't work so nice any more.  Resentment builds.  Hostility grows.  It is no environment to raise a child in.  Besides, I always think that I have set the example that nobody can treat me worse than I allow them to.  So by standing up and exiting a bad situation, I set the example that I am worth more than that, and so were my kids.  So, should you stay together to raise your kids?  Nope, probably not.  Move on. Set the example that you can be good parents together even though you are not together.  That is the message I'd want to send.

January 20, 2008
How do Children Cope with Divorce?
So just how do children cope with divorce?  Well from what I've seen, they do so mostly inside of themselves, and when it comes out it comes out at interesting times.  They often do their initial, say it isn't so, crying or denial routine.  But then all of a sudden it seems like they are okay with it.  There is some novelty of getting to have two bedrooms and going to live in two houses.  On the outside it might seem like all is well.  They might even willingly travel between two houses.  They might kiss Mom goodbye and greet Dad with a great big hug.  Inside however, there is a lot more going on.  Inside they are coping with some HUGE feelings.  They are coping with living with the guilt of what they feel they might have done to contribute.  They are coping with leaving one parent alone.  They are often caught in between a grown up battlefield, sometimes feeling like they are supposed to take sides.  When they are with Mom, Dad might seem like the bad guy.  They might even come to believe it.  Then they go to Dad's, and Dad doesn't seem like such a bad guy.  In fact, it may even seem like Mom wasn't so great in this after all.  They very rarely let on to all of the turmoil that is inside.  In fact, you may have no idea.  But inside they are wrestling with a constant battle.  They also may be battling missing their things.  That special purple pen might be just what would make this homework assignment complete, but of course it is at their other house.  They are quite unlikely to talk to you about it, because they don't want to make you feel bad.  So instead, they might blurt something out to a teacher, neighbor, or grandparent.  Or, if you are fortunate enough to have a copy of We're Having A Tuesday, my children's book on the subject, there is a section at the end that realy helps drive a conversation.  I can't tell you how many people have told me that they had no idea that all of this inner turmoil was going on until they read this book with their kids.  Of course, it may be as simple as we are going through our own inner turmoil about being recently divorced.  So maybe we just don't see it.....In any case, just because their grades haven't dropped and their not moping around in their room, doesn't mean that they are coping just fine.  Talk to them.  Ask their teachers and your family and friends.  You may find out otherwise.

January 19, 2008
What to do When Your Teen Doesn't Want to Go to the "Other Parent" Anymore?
My ex and I have always tried to be some united front.  Though at times we fight just as hard as when we were married, most of the time we do a good job parenting together.  So I'd always imagined that there might be a day when my kids didn't want to go to their Dad's.  I also always imagined telling them that they can't play their parents against each other, and that though there are times they'd rather not go, that they would have to.  I'd hoped that if the day ever came that they didn't want to come to one of us that we'd be adult enough to realize that living between two homes is very difficult and that there are other ways to have a relationship with your teen besides having them spend 3 nights a week sleeping under your roof.  But then the unthinkable happened.  My daughter started having struggles with her Dad, and it was her Dad that said he didn't want her to come over anymore.  I don't think she'd ever considered it an option.  He of course rethought his angry words, but now the words are lingering in her mind.  She is continuing to go, but doesn't really want to.  It's hard for me to tell her she must when it was her parent that made the suggestion.  So for now, we tread lightly around the subject.  But I must say, these turn of events has made me realize that there really does come a time when forcing your child to live between homes is really not in the best interest in your child if they are not thriving by doing so.

January 14, 2008
What Divorced Parents Can Learn from Barack Obama

Over and over I hear about divorced parents that are fighting tooth and nail.  They're vindictive.  They're nasty.  They're downright childish.  So what can we learn from Barack Obama?  We can learn that just like our country needs to come together and work together, so do we parents.  We can learn that we need to stop what we are doing and make changes.  Changes that may not be easy.  We can learn that we need to listen.  We need to take the time to listen to all sides of the story. We can learn to stop doing what we are doing just because that's the way we've always done it.  Just like Obama says, they're are not red states and blue states, only the United States, I say there is not Mom's parenting and Dad's parenting, only united parenting.  Like it or not, you chose to have children together.  Unlike marriage, you cannot divorce yourself from being a parent.  You must continue to parent and like it or not that means you must continue to parent together.  Just like Obama is not going to be able to walk in to Washington and change everything overnight, you are not going to just wake up and change how you've been co-parenting overnight.  And like Obama has a dream that he passionately believes in, that the people of the United States can begin to unite, work together, and become one.  You can passionately believe in doing WHATEVER it takes to benefit your child(ren).  They are your most precious commodity.  You can begin to unite, work together, and though you are separated, you can unite and become one parenting entity.  It's not about you.  It's about your children.  It's not about the man that will run the country, it's about the future of our country.  So, we can learn a lot about ourselves......just listen to Obama.  He's smart beyond his years, and we parents can only hope to learn from him and set a better example for our kids.  Remember they're watching how we get along with people in the world, and that includes our ex.

January 13, 2008
How to Cope with Being Alone Again

It's a strange thing.  I was sure I wanted to be divorced.  I initiated the paperwork.  I went and bought a townhome to live in.  I was ready to move on the the next chapter of my life.  I was ready to be free and do what I want, when I want, with who I want, and how I want.  Yet for some reason those first few months of being on my own were quite unsettling.  Don't get me wrong, there were moments I was quite joyous not to have the TV on at all, let alone have it flicking from channel to channel every 45 seconds.  But there were other times when the silence was quite ominous and very unwelcome.  The days my kids were home were sometimes better, and sometimes not, because the family was quite obviously missing someone.  These are some of the things I did those first few months..........maybe something will help with you coping.  1) I allowed myself to cry, whenever I needed to.  Sometimes I thought I still had some crying to do, so I rented sad movies.  Crying is quite healing.  2) I got a part-time job.  I found something that was interesting that I could do to fill the time, and used the extra cash to do some of the following suggestions.  3) I took dance lessons.  Dancing, I discovered, is one of the BEST blues chasers you can imagine.  Your mind is forced to focus on what you are doing.  Music can be quite lifting.  4)I traveled.  I went with friends, my kids, and even by myself.  One of my best trips was to a bed and breakfast in Taos, New Mexico.  I had the best time exploring and just being by myself, but not at home.  5) Take an exercise class.  I chose yoga.  Oh, my goodness, what a peaceful time that was.  6) Sign up for a long term physical goal, like a 3 day walk.  I walked 60 miles to raise money for breast cancer.  I trained for months.  Walking is a great mind clearer.  Maybe you like to run, train for a marathon. 7) Treat yourself.  I discovered massages and pedicures.  It's okay to treat yourself well.  You've been through a lot.  Before you know it you will be on the other side of the bridge, and the next thing you know you'll be looking back saying, gee, that wasn't so bad.

January 13, 2008
After Divorce: When should I have a grown-up sleep over?
Grown up sleep-overs?  Now that's an interesting topic.  When you do that is really up to you, UNLESS of course there are kids involved.  I have been divorced for 9 years, since my kids were 1 and 3.  I have yet to have a grown up sleep-over that involved a partner in my bed. There have been a few occassions where we've traveled with a male companion of mine, and we all shared a hotel room.  But my daughter and I slept in one bed.  My son sacked out on the floor, and my companion, well he had the other bed all to himself.  I'm actually grateful to that companion.  He set a rule when we first started dating that he would never sleep in my bed with me if the kids were there.  He felt like it was respect to both the kids and to me.  Many years before, he had a platonic friendship with a woman who had a young daughter.  One night the three of them started a movie rather late.  The woman was just too tired and went to bed, but my friend and the daughter stayed up to finish the movie.  When it was over, the young girl simply stated, "I like you, because you don't sleep with my Mom."  Wow!  Out of the mouth of babes.........  My ex on the other hand has taken a different approach.  Whenever he starts dating someone new, it's a matter of weeks before my kids are seeing their Dad hopping in bed with someone, sometimes he takes them over to this new woman's house.  (Luckily his relationships seem to all last a couple of years at time, so this isn't a frequent adjustment!)  I often wonder what my kids think.  I do know they know the difference, as it has come up before.  Personally, I think if you have a shared custody situation, save the sleepovers for when your kids are away!

January 11, 2008
Why Women Get Divorced....
A recent poll conducted by www.divorce360.com indicated that women were twice as likely as men to cite physical and verbal abuse as their reason for getting divorced.  Men were twice as likely as women to cite sex as the main reason.  It made me wonder about the poll and women's honesty.  I wonder if women are just not as likely to admit that sex was the main reason, just like men maybe don't want to admit that they were verbally or physically abused.  I thought about my own divorce.  When people ask me why we got divorced I usually go into some blurb about how we just fought all the time and I didn't want to raise my kids in that kind of environment.  Yet inside I know that there was certainly one issue that seemed to spill over into everything else.  You guessed it, SEX.  We had completely different desires, needs, wants, appetites, and ideas of how often and how it should be done.  That made for a cranky husband who became at times verbally abusive.  That of course made me verbally abusive as well.  I think that the sex issue is more important to women than we admit.  We don't like feeling like we have to "put out" every time our men want it.  When sex becomes a chore instead of a way to connect it can make a woman feel quite disconnected in her marriage, yet it is a very difficult thing to fix.  Once that intimacy is gone, it can start spilling over into everything else.  On the other hand if a woman is being verbally abused about her looks, actions, spending habits and such, it can make her become quite turned off about having sex.  Maybe it's like a which came first, the chicken or the egg question.  Which destroyed the marriage first, the sex or the fighting?  In any case, I question how accurately women respond to that kind of question.  What finally sends us over the edge to get divorced is usually more complex than a multiple choice response probably allows for.

January 9, 2008
How Do You Know It's Time To Separate?
I remember when I was struggling with the question.  How do I know if I should separate?  Should we get a divorce?  I remember when I realized that this very question was beginning to consume my mind.  I  had two little kids.  How am I supposed to just give up on my family I wondered.  Eventually I asked my Dad, who had been divorced from my mom for many years, how did he know.  He answered in a way I've never forgotten.  He told me that I would know when the bad memories began to wipe away the good ones.  He said sometimes issues in a marriage are like cancer.  If it's an issue that is fundamental, it will eventually just spread through the marriage like cancer can through a body.  Once that starts happening, it can be pretty hard to remember what the good memories are, or why you even got married.  I tucked that piece of advice away.  I tried to focus on the good memories so that the bad ones couldn't take over.  Somehow it just didn't work.  One morning, I literally fell out of bed trying to make sure my then husband didn't touch me. I realized then that we might be at the point of no return.  I began figuring out how I might make it on my own financially.  Once I had a plan, it seemed I never looked back.  I realized that if I wanted to salvage some kind of decent parenting relationship, that I was going to have to separate and get some space before the bad memories turned us into bitter, angry, vindictive people.  So I did.  It wasn't easy, and to this day I occassionally wonder if I gave up too easily.  I don't think so, and if I'd pushed on, I would have likely wound up with an enemy instead of just an ex-husband.  I can live with it.  After all, the bad memories outweighed the good ones, but they didn't wipe the slate clean.  We all survived, and I'm thankful.

January 3, 2008
Divorced Mom Ready for a Full Relationship Again.

Iíve been thinking a lot about the whole dating scene.  For the past 9 years Iíve been avoiding any relationship that could get too serious.  Iíve dated some.   I even took to managing a long distance relationship for several years; I think to avoid having someone else tell me how to raise my kids.  Of course I couldnít get too hurt if this one didnít work out after all I didnít see him every day, so I wouldnít miss him every day, right?  Well let me tell you, that method of operation is getting old.  Iím ready.  Iím ready for the whole kit and caboodle.  Iím ready to figure out a full relationship, blending it with my kids and ex and the whole thing.  Iíve spent so much time hiding out, trying to do what is best for my kids, that I forgot that I have a right to have a companion too.  Yeah, Iím a bit weary.  I donít relish the idea of figuring out how to blend ďhimĒ and my kids together.  My goodness, supposing I find him, when on earth is the right time for  him to meet my kids?  What if I want a grown-up sleepover?  Worse yet, what if he figures out that though sometimes I might act like a regular thirty-something single woman, that other times Iím just a regular frumpy mom?  STOP!  No more what ifsÖÖÖ..this is the year.  Iím going back out there.  Iím going to find him wherever he is.  And if heís the right one, not a one of those questions will need to be asked, because he will fall into my life naturally.  He will fit.  And I will enjoy every moment as it comes!

January 2, 2008
Resolving to Enjoy My Kids

Itís January again.  Time again for those resolutions.  Being single and having the kids gone for a few days at a time gives me time to reflect.  Sometimes I forget that those days that the kids are with my ex can actually be a gift.  This year I took the time to reflect on my life and where it is going.  I realized that the time with my kids is going by lightening fast.  I also realized that they absorb a lot through example.  So I spend time teaching the world how not to bad-talk their ex, how to do shared custody better, how to help kids cope with divorce.  What I donít do is take the time to teach them through my example, how to be present in the moment.  So often I am anticipating where they have to be next, what day they are going back to Dadís or even coming back to me.  I find myself often living any place but right not.  One day I asked my daughter to come and play a game with my son and I.  She shot back, ďIím in the middle of something, so in a minuteĒ.  I realized that she was mimicking my own words.  So my resolutions are pretty simple this year.  1) Simplify 2) Be Present 3)Enjoy my kids every minute they are with me, as it wonít be long and they wonít just be going to their Dadís theyíll be moving out!


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