May 16, 2011

Keeping the Peace

Like all my other posts, this is for all parents but more than others, I'm speaking to mothers and, more specifically, those no longer in relationships with the father of the child. At some time or other since parting ways, you've experienced feelings of frustration toward the man you chose to have a child with. These feelings may be tied mostly to the common perspective of most who split from a committed relationship - that it was a failure. That's understandable since I don't think most of us make the decision to conceive lightly or plan to end the relationship with the father when rubbing our bellies and dreaming of the future. I'm assuming that like me, most of us were in love with that person at the moment of conception but for whatever reason, things didn't work out and we're now faced with the unexpected responsibility of being the primary caregiver to the child/ren. So, not surprisingly, there are feelings of disappointment, fear, loneliness and anger to contend with, deal with and eventually get over (somewhat quickly hopefully) when you split.

And this all has to be done while "moving on". I use the quotations sarcastically because I think moving on won't take place for most for quite some time since getting over the grief of the relationship takes real and consistent effort. However, it's paramount to the success of parenting and your overall emotional well being because if you become stuck in any of the emotions, there is no way you can move on and be that effective parent or happy individual. Don't get me wrong, you will function - or most will - and go through the motions of taking care of the child, the house, going to work, etc. You may even start to love yourself again right away and embrace the fact that you no longer have a partner and can now live your life as such. You may be able to relish the fact that all decisions are yours alone, that you have no one to check in with, that you are single and manning the ship solo. For some, dating may commence and be enjoyable. What I want us all to remember is that letting go of the anger, the frustration, to the whatever that ended the relationship is THE most important thing that we must do in order for coparenting to begin and be sustained. And it MUST be done for the good of the kids.

It's so easy to remain angry and to use the kids as pawns in the back-and-forth game that will no doubt take place between the both of you. As the moms who are in more instances than not the primary caregivers, we've got to take the high road, turn the other cheek, keep our cool, etc. It's not only for our own good, it is without a doubt for our children's own good AND our duty. More than ever before those little and/or young eyes are watching our every move and will use what they see as their example of the best way to deal with adversity. Remember, the breakup is happening to them too and is just as traumatic, if not more so, to their delicate psyches. Let's teach them love, patience and compromise not hate, spite and contempt.

With that said, I'll say that it's alot easier for the secondary care giver to get to a place of content. This is simply because regardless of where they are emotionally with the breakup, they do not have the little ones to worry about day-to-day. The freedom to get over things by any means necessary is theirs and a benefit that cannot be overlooked. The primary caregiver should take care to acknowledge that this is probably the main reason the other person seems to have just gotten over everything while you seem to be stuck in a rut.
Regardless of appearances, however, it is necessary for both parents to grow up, get over the past and move on. Children of separation do best when there is a true sense of coparenting happening. Coparenting is going to be the closest thing to the way it was for all involved. Whenever possible, there should be daily conversationss between the child and secondary caregiver. He or she should know about school events and how the kids are doing in school. They should be included in any celebrations for milestones: the first step, losing the first tooth, getting an A on their dreaded math test, etc. Involvement in some or all these areas are the easiest way to have an ongoing dialogue with Dad for both you and the child. It keeps you both away from the danger zone topics that could lead to inflamed tempers and focused on the core of your relationship which is now parenting. Eventually, with consistent effort from you both, there can be plans for family outings and the like. Imagine the joy your child would have if this took place. Imagine your sense of accomplishment and how content you must be to get to this point in the relationship with your former mate.

Trust me when I tell you that if you're still stuck in the phase of getting over all your feelings, then you'll never be able to be your best: parent, friend, lover, partner. To anyone. Period. So let it go. Keep the peace. Learn from my mistakes and don't waste a year the way I did being angry and bitter. The world doesn't need any more angry or bitter people; especially women...or sistahs.

Let it go - just let go of it all. Trust me, once you do it life as you know it will change for the better.

One!
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