Do you worry about your kids loving you less somehow?

When I was going through my divorce I worried about that… and that they might love being with “her” more than me. She was younger and for all I knew at the time – a ton of fun. All I could see was her as Julia Roberts in Step Mom. I think this is normal to worry about…

And then the divorce guilt gifts started rolling in like new cellphones for the 11 year olds! Whaaat!? I wasn’t even consulted. And apparently “she” made really good Tacos for dinner.

And then I felt guilty because I loved when they said things like “She’s nice to us mom, but we don’t really like her”.

Parenting through divorce is hard – add an affair partner who is now in their daily lives and the possibility of WW3 starting are excellent.

I decided that there was only one thing to do – be the mom they had always known and loved up until when the marriage ended. Same rules, same food, same routines, same silly Friday Shania Twain dance parties and just as many kisses, hugs and outpouring of love. I never asked about their time at their Dad’s beyond “did you have a good weekend”. I never commented when they complained about the food he (didn’t) make them. I just welcomed them home and was beyond happy to have them with me again.

I know now that this was the right strategy because a couple of years later one or two of them thanked me for not changing and “just being mom” 🥰.

I also learned that parenting is hard – period. Divorce isn’t what made it harder for me, just made it different. The upside was not having the conflict in front of them and I did get days off. Life was simpler for all of us when we were together now. Possibly because I felt so much lighter without the stress of him anymore and therefore I was more carefree with them. Staying together for the kids is never the solution for this reason. They sense the tension and lack of love between you.

I write this 14 years after our marriage ended and if there is one thing I have learned it is that our children love us no matter what. Regardless of parenting blunders, bad behaviour or good. They love us just as we love them – unconditionally. The quality of the relationship however will depend on how you interact and the choices you make when you are with them. So here are some guidelines that I followed over the years:

  • Don’t compete with the other parent about anything (time, vacations, affection, love, gifts…)
  • Love them unconditionally
  • Make all choices and all decisions that affect them from that place of unconditional love.
  • If you hear yourself saying things like “it’s not fair to me” or “Your dad shouldn’t…” or “I will be so sad and miss you the whole time you are with your dad” then you need to get some help with managing this new co-parenting situation. I get it – honestly! But they don’t and they don’t know how to handle things like that.
  • Never ever badmouth the other parent. Period. Ever. Not under any circumstances. Never!
  • Be flexible, but even the kids don’t get to cross your boundaries. Learn

I know most of these seem obvious, but when we are feeling hurt, angry or missing our kids then we can show a side of us that is not in alignment with our beliefs and values. I know I have been there more than once. Don’t be too hard on yourself when this happens. Listen to your inner beliefs, correct and keep plugging forward. You’ve got this mama!

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