In the county where we live, when you divorce and have children between the ages of 6-16, each family member must complete six hours of Families in Transition Counseling. It is ordered by the Court and each parent must pay $50 to attend. Needless to say, I was a little skeptical at first. I went in with an open mind, this is for the best interest of my children. The session started with a movie showing children of divorce and their reactions and how they have coped since their parents divorces. It reminded me of how my children were told of our divorce and how I will never forget their reaction or forgive their father for his behavior that night. How my youngest thought he was kidding when he said "Mommy wants a divorce and Daddy doesn't" and she started laughing. Because everything was a joke to him, he was always "kidding". When she turned and looked at her sister and then looked back at me, I will never forget the look on her little face. The look of doubt, fear, her world as she knew it had just crumbled beneath her. A mother never wants to see that look on her child's face. My oldest knew something wasn't right, she had been asking me for weeks if we were getting a divorce, she was prepared for what was to come.
The counselor had some very interersting points to make, some of them being:
*Our children are made up of two parents and we can't ask them to deny a part of themselves. The greatest gift we can give them is the ability to love the other parent.
*The importance of not breaking promises. I don't mean things like, not ordering take out or not going swimming. I mean the things that matter, being there for them. They have to know that I am here for them. Just because their dad and I couldn't get along and didn't stay together doesn't mean that I am going to abandon them. I am a mother, these thoughts never enter my mind, but as a child, I could see them thinking, what if? I need to reassure them they are safe, they are secure and I am here for them and I love them.
*They are grieving too. They miss not seeing their dad everyday. What can I do to help them with the grieving process? Routines are very important for children, it helps keep them grounded.
*I found this to be very interesting - the counselor was talking about how through life we make different friends. You have friends in grade school, middle and high school. Then you go to college and make new friends. After you graduate, you start a job and make even more new friends. At this point in your life, you are certainly a different person, than lets say, you were in high school, and you don't have all the same friends, right? Well, it's the same with your mate. People change, people grow, and sometimes it is in opposite directions. And if you are not happy, then you need to be happy. Life is too long AND too short to be unhappy. You are not doing anyone any favors by living your life unhappy. You know what you need to do - :-) - be happy!