My mother, Joan, was young when she became a single parent, just thirty-three years old. I was the second oldest in our family of four kids and ten years old at the time. Mom moved her children to Nova Scotia to be near her parents when she and my dad separated. We traveled the CN Rail for two days winding through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick then onto our new home in Truro.
I thought of my mother as a pioneer of separated or divorced woman back thirty-eight years ago in 1979. I didn’t have any friends who were from single families at the time, we seemed to be alone in the vast and lonely sea of being seen as that family.
Mom rented a basement apartment in a seven-plex building. We were enrolled in Alice Street Public School. My new school was built hundreds of years before, and it had rows of old desks with holes to hold your ink bottle. I remember Mom buying us a new outfit for our first day of school, which would be the last year I had a new clothing on the first day. She had picked out matching outfits for my sister Shaun and I. My skirt was a pink pleated one, which went to my knees and Shaun’s was robin-egg-blue, but new clothes can’t band-aid the pain of being separated from a father you love.
Our dad called us each week to talk to us on the phone, and one by one we all went to the phone and had our turn to talk to the father we missed so much and hoped we would see soon. We loved our dad dearly, he was sweet and kind and teased us every chance he had. Not having him in our daily life left a huge gaping hole that couldn’t be filled by anything else.
My mother always spoke highly of our father. Never did she put him down in front of us. She never spoke of the details of their separation. We learned more over the years, but she never wanted to cause us to be poisoned in any way towards our dad due to her feelings and also only giving her side of the story. She didn’t cast any blame, and when she was older, and I was an adult, she still encouraged us to have a loving relationship with our father. My mother has four grown children who love her dearly for what she did for us, setting her feelings aside and doing what was best for us.
She chose the high road.
I realize now what my mother did was very unselfish and also unusual. In a growing population of divorced couples today, there seems to be a movement called Trash the Daddy, or we could even call it Trash the Mommy. Parents are duking it out verbally to see who can hurt the other the most. They then begin to use their children to lash out at the other by withholding visitation or alimony, convincing their child their other parent is a useless bum or talking poorly about their ex’s new significant other. I’m sure I could list a thousand other things parents throw out there in their child’s face about the other parent. Children are slowly dying emotionally due to this strained relationship.
Eventually, we moved back to live near our dad. When we were grounded for a crime we had committed, like bickering and fighting with each other or breaking curfew, Mom still allowed us to go to Dad’s house whenever we wanted. Dad had full access to us at all times, there was no, you have complete custody, or I do. We lived with Mom but could go sleep at Dad’s or visit whenever we wanted. Dad also did not speak poorly to us about our mother. My parents were unusual, this I do know because rarely does a child have two parents who will not try to kill each other with hateful, spiteful words in front of their kids. I’m sure they had their arguments, but they were done when we were not in earshot of their telephone conversations.
We were the children, not the ammunition.
Most single parents don’t realize the tremendous stress they put their child under when they get angry at the ex and then explain the twenty reasons why they despise them to their child. If your son or daughter has a parent who loves them and doesn’t abuse them and you love your child, you should speak highly of their other parent and do everything in your power to foster that relationship for the welfare of your son or daughter.
Put yourself aside and put your child ahead of your feelings.
I am endeared to my mother for what she did for her four kids. She tried her best to give us a stress-free divorce to survive. Yes, children feel divorced too. You’re not the only one. But when two parents are peacefully still raising the child together but apart, a child stands a chance of surviving and coming out less bitter in life and more adjusted.
I know what some of you may be thinking, but my ex is continuously berating me to the children. You can’t control their words and actions, but you can manage your own. Like my mother, you have the choice to take the high road and give your child the peaceful life they crave and want. Children hate divorce and despise being tossed back and forth as pawns you use to punish your ex for hurting you. It feels like Hell on earth to your son or daughter when you put them in the middle of your adult problems.
Trash the Daddy Movement
This is a terrible crime committed against children every day in North America. I wish children could protest and march with signs explaining how they feel about Trash The Parent movement and inspire a new revolution to unfold called Love The Child.
Seek out a close friend or counselor that you can confide in and share your pain and suffering with. Divorce hurts, the pain can last a lifetime. Your feelings are valid and should be acknowledged and spoken about to someone you trust. If you and your spouse have cell phones, you have the opportunity to text quietly back and forth, leaving the children out of the conversation.
I want to encourage you as a parent to please give up this fight you are having and wave your white flag and surrender yourself to do what is right for the child caught in the middle of this war.
One day your son or daughter may see you with new eyes and think of you as their hero, the one who gave up their own rights so they could have the gift of living in peace.
If this is one of the massive burdens you are struggling with right now, God wants to carry you up this mountain called divorce and also overcome the verbal battle. Ask him to give you the strength and wisdom to turn from the fight. He desires to bless you for your unselfish love and actions, and no one understands your situation more than God. After all, there was no more significant sacrifice than the one Jesus made, joyfully laying aside his desires so we could have a life of peace💗
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV