Sharon feels she is doing okay with her divorce but she is beside herself over her husband’s neglect of their children. Conner says his biggest struggle is seeing how his wife’s leaving has hurt their children. “I’ll never forgive her for what she did to them by deserting them,” he says.
What do you do? You see your children saddened by their other parent’s absence. It breaks your heart but no matter what you say to your ex, things don’t change. Or maybe the other parent is totally absent.
It feels like a no-win situation. You know how the other parent should act, but he or she doesn’t. You want to fix the situation for your children’s sake, but you cannot.
And that’s the truth.
The truth is that you cannot fix it. If you’ve appealed to your spouse until you are weary and worn then continuing to appeal to your spouse probably won’t change a thing. You’ll just become more frustrated.
That leads us to truth number one:
You cannot force another person to act a certain way, no matter how right you may be.
And what about Conner? He says he will never forgive his ex for leaving their children. Forgiving is an interesting concept we will be talking about later, but let me ask you now–what happens to Conner when he continues to feed his own anger about his ex’s behavior? He suffers and his suffering does not help his children.
So here is truth number two:
Feeding your own anger about the situation hurts not only you but also your children.
When you feed your own anger (no matter how just it may be) you feed your pain. When you feed your pain, your children sense it. Not only that, dwelling on anger toward your spouse will color what you say to your children about their other parent and may intensify their sense of loss.
Now here is truth number three:
Present or absent, your children’s other parent is still their other parent.
Negative things your children hear you say that about their other parent have the potential to add to your children’s grief.
Apply your energies to being the best parent you can be for your children. By diminish your focus on a situation you cannot fix (your ex’s choices) and turning your energies toward being a good parent yourself, you will help yourself and your children to better heal from divorce.
“Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32 NKJV
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