“Mommy, why can’t you and Daddy live in the same house again?”
My boy asked that one afternoon after I picked him up from school, it threw me off completely. He spent a week living with his father while I tried to chase a dream in Bali. After a few deep breaths, I finally told him “Because Mommy and Daddy are divorced, Alex.” Then I asked him to sit next to me.
“Do you remember what divorce means?” as I gently stroked his hair.
“No…,” he said flatly.
“It means Mommy and Daddy decided to go our own way. To not be married and live together anymore but that doesn’t mean we stop loving you.” I told him. “It means now you have two homes.”
“And you will marry Oom Dan?” I could almost see his brain trying to connect the dots.
“Yes, Alex just like Daddy is now married to Tante. Mommy will marry Oom Dan and Oom Dan loves you too.”
He smiled and said, “Okay so I have two Daddies and two Mommies?!”
“Yes, you have! Aren’t you lucky to have 2 Daddies and 2 Mommies that love you?”
“Alex it’s okay to feel that way to want Daddy and Mommy to be together again, that’s normal. There is nothing wrong with that.”
He got up and started playing with his lego as if he hadn’t just asked me such a big question.
I sat with his question for a while and discussed it with Dan. Before I moved to Bali he asked me similar yet deeper questions as he cried in my arms. He was truly heartbroken and my heart ached for him. Being the only boy in the class whose mother and father is divorced must be hard for him. To see his friends show up with their parents for school activities must have been difficult to understand for Alex.
He realizes he is different…
But it is up to me as his mother to show him that being different is more than okay! To guide him to look at his situation from a different point of view. Instead of “Oh I am a product of a broken home.” Into “I have two families that love me so much.”
How will I do that? By working closely with his father, my fiancé, and his teachers. I don’t have all the formulas figured out just yet.
It will take time and patience…
He is only 7 years old.
This is where his father and I really need to be a team in helping him cope and even thrive despite how different his life is compared to his classmates.
Thankfully his father and I have reached a higher new level of co-parenting lately. We both want him to have a great life, to grow up to be a healthy well-mannered boy and we both realize we need to be a team despite our circumstances.
We continue to discuss openly different ways to discipline him and bring him up. This is something I have been struggling with. Most people don’t have little idea how hard it is to be the one who has to solely discipline him.
My boy is struggling and needs his father’s guidance too.
That’s why I am so grateful that his father recently has been more involved. We communicate almost daily now. We agreed that Alex needs to know what to expect. He needs structure. We worked out a schedule together to allow him to spend more time with his father.
We have some challenges too in school that we are still dealing with. Behavioral issues…I asked the teacher to uphold discipline despite his ‘sad story’ of being a child from divorced parents. It should not be used as an excuse to not do any work in school. His teacher felt deeply sorry for him, she almost cries when she said Alex told her that he was living with his father. His teacher nearly gasped in horror when I told her I plan to go back to work fulltime. The school counselor said his behavior improved greatly since I quit working a few months ago but I need to get back to work.
Being a single mom is hard enough. Being a child of divorced parents is difficult. It has been quite a challenging few months.
“When his love tank is full he will not care much. He just wants to feel loved.” Said a friend.
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Then it hits me, that is why he could easily walk away after we discussed why his parents can’t live together anymore.
His love tank was full!
He feels loved. He feels heard. His concerns were addressed. He was satisfied.
My heart feels full of love.
I may have a lot more to learn about motherhood, about raising a boy but with the help of my future husband to be, my ex-husband and his wife, I’m sure everything will be fine. I am so grateful that we are all in this together. For a boy who is great and deeply loved.
9 thoughts on “Co-parenting Just Got Real”
I love that opening quote, Maureen, and you for being so open about this on your blog! Your son is do loved and his story is that of many children. Marriages don’t always work out but children do come out okay so long as there is love and a willingness of both parents to be respectful and attentive to what matters most: the children. You are doing a great job, Maureen! I hope you know that!!
Thank you Jessica…we have some rough patches lately but I guess that is part of parenting, mothering and on this case out of divorced. I am so grateful that my ex and I are now on a much better terms that we can work closely together to help our son.
Battling extreme differences in behavior right now with my son, he has ADHD not officially at the moment but everyone can see it, till he goes to his dad’s and was diagnosed with Asperger’s and is withdrawn. Co-parenting is hard but if both parents can agree to go for the best interest of the child it can be easy.
Hi Amanda, believe it or not at first I suspect my boy have Asperger’s and we got him tested. The result came back negative but he does have behavioral problems that needs to be addressed. I have read a lot about Asperger’s before he got tested so my heart goes out to you. You are an amazing mom! Thank you for sharing your story.
Yes, I’m divorced too and my son is 5. He has some of the same issues that Alex has. We are still trying to work this “co parenting” thing out. I’m remarried now and my son knows that he is loved by both families, but the process is still hard…
Hi Aaron, congrats on your wedding! Yes, I understand the process is hard. I think our kids needs to be reminded a lot about how much they are loved and need a lot more reassurance than their peers from intact family. Wishing you the best with your boy!
It is good that you guys are able to co-parent effectively. That does make it a bit more manageable than if you had to do it all alone or if the other parent was difficult. It seems as though he feels pretty secure, even if he is having some issues in school.
Thank you so much Tiffany, we are still learning. I think my ex new wife is still uncomfortable or shy with communicating with me when I keep telling him that I am all for open communications and I don’t mind her text or call me when it comes to our son, besides she is now my boy’s step mom. But hopefully with time she will not be so shy anymore.
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