Book Teaser: If You Have Littles
Edits are coming back for the book and I can't wait to share the final product with all of you in less than a month! All of it lined with a mixed bag of emotions, of course. Sometimes I weep at this story just because it happened. It’s awfully sad. Other times I weep because it was my daughter and I that it happened to. Again, sadness. And then most times, I weep at God’s restoration of the story. The joy of where we are now and all that has been redeemed through the sorrow. That, my friends, is worth weeping over.
This next book teaser is the second to last! It's for the friends out there with kiddos. Or as I call my daughter, the brightest of all silver lining. Here’s a little preview on how to navigate through parenting and divorce.
14. If You Have Littles
“... Do we agree on anything anymore? Religious beliefs? Nope. Moral life decisions? Definitely not. Basic conversation topics? Can’t even do that. I remember times where having a simple conversation (post affair) felt like pulling teeth with a stranger. There was nothing. Our unity was destroyed.
Then there was our daughter, who we’d both take a bullet for. This little being we created with the sweetest smile and the most darling personality. If you're still fighting, trying to live through the long months of a dying marriage: focus on your little one. Remember that this small human being you created represents the love you once had for each other and the love you share for your child. Remember when you decided to have this child it was in the fine print that your family would stay together forever. Keep your eye on that fine print and fight for your family.
So here’s the deal straight up: Kids can’t be the reason that two people stay married. The couple needs the drive to keep their marriage a separate, thriving relationship, one that their children see as secure and loving, not based on a child. It’s far too much pressure for children to feel that they are what's keeping their family together. It screams emotional immaturity. Kids are a huge motivator to make things work, but you need more.
At times, our daughter was my only motivator and had there been a shared effort, she would have been a huge driving force. Let’s be real, no one wants to share their child with a step-parent. I would’ve done anything to avoid that. However, this decision was made for me.
As much as having a child from a broken marriage adds a level of raw difficulty, it also reminds you there was a purpose for your union. I remind myself daily: I’d go through it all again if it meant I had my daughter.
While talking pure difficulty, your child also holds you to a completely new level of accountability in how you treat and respond to your ex-spouse. DivorceCare had some very helpful “easier said than done” reminders on the topic of co-parenting. This session was entitled, “KidCare: Effects of divorce on children. Mistakes parents make and how to avoid them.” It started with a downer video clip about how pretty much all children of divorced parents are doomed as human beings and susceptible to drug use, suicide, poor grades, teen pregnancy, depression and every other worst case scenario a parent can imagine. Where’s the encouragement! This wasn’t my daughter’s fault. Then it got into how to prevent the terror described in the opening scene. Thank God.
Much like anything that children encounter in their upbringing, how the matter is handled by the parent drastically changes the long term effects that are had. Our children learn more by observing than any other way, so we must be careful how we handle our anger, conflict, and how we speak of our ex.
Here are the mistakes that parents make (according to Divorce Care):
- Lack of Stability
- Lower expectations
- Trashing child’s parent
- Keeping child from parent
- Using child to spy on ex
- Putting child in the middle
- Making child choose
- Treating child as an adult
- Dumping child on counselor
- Overindulging children
As a parent whose child will have divorced parents, I’d like to avoid all of the above. I’d say it’s a good idea to avoid all of the above as a parent, even if you’re married and simply in a rough patch. For me, I take basic parenting principles and apply them to the situation I will forever (I say forever, because we will always be co-parents) be in with BD. The type of parent I attempt to be is one who models unconditional love, forgiveness, self-respect, humility, and kindness regardless of circumstances. I try to show my daughter these qualities in every situation I am faced with. Obviously, I am human and far from perfect, but I do my best.
I would say that all of these qualities are lumped into the most difficult discipline for me personally and that would be holding my tongue. He didn’t unconditionally love me, I can forgive but not forget. I have self-respect and that’s why he left, my pride often drowns out my humility, and what kind words are to be said about a cheating husband. Rant done. I say discipline because that’s exactly what it was. Implementing the no trash talking is a discipline that takes practice. It is not natural nor does it come easy. However, I love my daughter more. My love for her took over my need to be a petty shit talker about her father. Bashing your spouse or ex-spouse is a horrible act any way you look at it. Now, I will say, venting is important, but also meant for the ears of close friends where children are not present.
Remember your child knows that he/she is made up of both of you. If you are talking so negatively about half of them, they will start doubting their worth and self-esteem. If nothing else, remind yourself that your little one would not be here if it weren’t for that other parent. The child you adore is half of them and would not exist without them. And repeat …"