divorce

3 Simple Things You Can Do to Move on After a Divorce

Yes, divorce is difficult. But once they make peace with the process, most people agree that life after a divorce is much better than trying to coexist with someone who no longer wants to be in your life. The negative feelings that come with a divorce may seem never-ending, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here are three steps you can take to reach it more quickly and move on.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Even if you're the one who wanted the divorce, the process still marks the end of a relationship that played a large role in your life. You can expect your divorce to trigger the same stages of grief that the death of a loved one or another difficult life event would. The process is normal and necessary, so you'll need to let yourself experience it. Although you'll want to make sure you do so in a constructive way, you'll do yourself a favor if you let out your anger and tears, even when they arrive unexpectedly. Trying to control and fight the process only makes it take longer.

Deep Clean

If you're still living in the marital home, it's likely full of reminders. If you moved out, you probably took things with you that you ultimately won't need or want. You should deep clean your home and remove the clutter of personal items that cause you emotional pain. Get rid of things that remind you of your ex, rearrange the furniture and freshen things up with a new coat of paint. Doing this allows you to claim space for yourself that you're no longer sharing with another person or unpleasant memories of them.

Reach Out

Divorce can make you want to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed all day, but it's important that you reach out. There are compelling reasons to spend time with your family and good friends. Doing so gives you a safe place to vent your feelings and serves as a reminder that there is still plenty of love in your life. Make plans with the people who make you feel good and let them work their magic on you.

Following these tips for moving on after your divorce can help make things a little easier. The process isn't a simple one, however, so don't be too hard on yourself if your divorce is taking a bigger toll than expected. Do what you can to help yourself and lean on your loved ones when you need them. If you feel you need more support, consider getting the help of a therapist. Individual and group therapy are great ways to process your feelings so you can move on to a happier life in a healthy way.

Including the Stepparent

Many separated or divorced parents make the decision to move on with their lives and seek meaningful relationships. When remarrying or deciding to be in a committed relationship, their partners take on a role of a stepparent.

Lotus Therapies|Stepparents|CoParenting|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

Being a stepparent can be very overwhelming, challenging, and rewarding. But when a stepparent isn't supported, included on respected they could feel like the odd man out and problems and resentment start to seep into your relationship. Being the odd man out for the stepparent can feel like they are on constant pins and needles with the kids and you as their partner because they are trying to find their place and their voice in your co-parenting situation.

Lotus Therapies|Stepparents|CoParenting|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

With the children, their needs, trying to manage the co-parenting relationship, and your own needs, the stepparent and their needs can unnoticeably take a backseat. Here are 3 tips to make sure that the stepparent feels connected and included.

Nurture Your Relationship

Stepparents need the reassurance that the co-parenting situation working for the betterment of the family unit and validation and recognition of their place in their household and in their spouse's life. Make time for each other when you can maintain your connection.Unity within the couple's relationship bridges the emotional gap between the stepparent and stepchildren and positions both adults to lead the family.

Lotus Therapies|Stepparents|CoParenting|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

 

Communicate! Then Communicate Some More.

Just as the lines of communication is imperative for co-parents, it is also important for stepparents and their partners. Rather than being silent in their resentment, stepparents should express their need to have their contributions recognized and acknowledged (Grace, Elizabeth, 2017).  Stepparents can find it hard to find their barrings and need to be able to talk with their partners on how they feel, how to address issues that come up with the children, and what their role looks like as a stepparent where everyone is feels validated and their needs are being met. 

 

Just a little Respect.

Respect is a big part of the foundation of any relationship. Just as your relationship took the time to grow and flourish it will take time for the stepparent and child to bond. Respecting the process, having discussions about the new family unit and how it will be managed is key to building a strong foundation. A stepparent will have their own views, values, and beliefs that they will bring to the relationship and those should be respected and acknowledged. But as parents and partners communication about how parenting, discipline, and co-parents should be handled will be ongoing and partners must come to an agreement they are comfortable with implementing in their daily lives. Another important aspect of respect is between the stepparent and the child. Both the child and the stepparent should show each other a level of respect. This is always best displayed rather than verbalized because children do as you do not as you say--usually. If a child feels safe with the stepparent and not pushed into a relationship with them respect comes a little bit easier. Stepparents also must display respect for the children and the other parent (your ex) by being considerate of boundaries, communicating with honesty, and helping to keep the peace.

Although step-parenting can be difficult it can also be rewarding and help to create loving connections. Stepparents should be acknowledged for their roles, heard, included in decisions and planning, and the marriage or romantic relationship should be nurtured to make sure that your relationship and family unit is solid. 

 

References:

Grace, Elizabeth (2017, May 27). Dealing with Feelings of Resentment as a Stepparent. Being a Stepparent. Retrieved from http://www.beingastepparent.co.uk/dealing-with-feelings-resentment-stepparent.html

Deal, Ron (2002). Stepparenting: It Takes Two. Focus on the Family. Retrieved from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/single-blended-family-parenting/blended-families/stepparenting-it-takes-two

 

3 Co-Parenting Styles: Which Are You?

In Co-Parenting 101 by Deesha Philyaw and Michael Thomas, they created a simple explanation of 3 different types of coparenting styles. These styles are not based on how you parent your children but more about how you interact, communicate, cope, and coexist as coparents. Philyaw and Thomas define 3 different types of co-parenting styles as Super Friends, Business Partners, Oil and Water (I'm sure you can figure out what this one means). 

Lotus Therapies| Co-parenting Styles|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

Super Friends are "parents whose co-parenting relationship is characterized by low conflict, flexibility, easy communication, and congeniality."  

Super Friends Co-Parenting Style display:

  • open respect for each other
  • ongoing communication
  • low conflict
  • all interactions and demonstrations are motivated by the child's wellbeing

Although this is an ideal situation, parents must be aware of and maintain boundaries so that children won't confuse respect and kindness with the possibility of a reconciliation between their parents. With all the god intentions of having a super-friends parenting style it still does not address or shield children from being hurt by the divorce. It is best to always keep communication open for children to express ongoing feelings about the effects of the divorce.

Lotus Therapies| Co-parenting Styles|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

The business partners style is "characterized by the more formal interaction, strict adherence to schedules and written plans, and a basic civility." This is a "stick to the plan" style. These types of parents will have interactions that only that pertain to the parenting plan or keep to agreed upon schedules and they try to remain emotionally detached as it pertains to the other party.

Business Partners Co-Parenting Style display:

  • clear boundaries
  • emotions remain strictly in check
  • children's lives are not intertwined
  • minimum communication

The Business Partners style is useful for parents trying to get a specific message to and from the other parent without mudding the waters. This style can backfire and create a way for the child to manipulate or take advantage of minimum communication. 

Lotus Therapies| Co-parenting Styles|Cumming, GA|Lawrenceville, GA

Oil and Water coparenting style is defined as "a near and total breakdown of communication, high conflict, mistrust, and competitiveness." Just picture an all out nuclear war or a ticking time bomb.

Oil and Water Parents are:

  • a constant obstruction
  • verbal/physical altercation
  • unable to compromise
  • holding onto pain/anger/hurt from the unsuccessful relationship

An oil and water parent can be very reactive and find it very difficult to interact with each other. This is the most toxic of the three types of coparenting styles. It creates an atmosphere of inadequacy, insecurity, and fear for the child.

Creating a Positive Experience

In order to create a positive coprarenting experience, you have to decide to heal from the past and put your child first. Always strive to exhibit the behavior that you want for your relatipship as a coparent. Just because your ex is an oil and water parent doesn't mean you can't be a super friends parent.

Focus on:

  • always being positive
  • creating and maintain an open dialogue with your child 
  • always exhibiting kindness and refrain from getting sucked into arguments
  • LOVE on your kid-ESPECIALLY if you have a particularly shitty ex 
  • Be sure to create a safe space for your child
  • NOT talking shit about your EX around your child
  • Maintaining self-care, Love on yourself and Get help if you need it

Co-parenting can be rewarding and a positive experience. Having adequate support is crucial to having a successful co-parenting relationship. There are co-parenting groups like the one I provide, Quiet the Wars Co-parenting Group that are available to support parents through the transition of co-parenting by offering therapeutic support and referrals to legal professionals.

 

 

 

Philyaw, D.,Thomas, M.D. (2013) Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households after Divorce. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.