Deciding on Divorce

Custody Concerns

There are many ways to arrange custody of the children. It is not always necessary to divide time equally. Different schedules can accommodate the goal of fostering a relationship in both households. For example, not all ex-husbands are interested in having any custody at all. If your ex is interested, it is good to provide for access to school information and notices as well as to communicate about health matters. With the help of your mediator, you'll want to structure an agreement that enables each parent to be a parent while not causing too much interaction between the divorced couple.

If both of you know what is expected of you and such things as schedules are clear, there is very little reason for you to have to interact with your ex. What you want is a cordial relationship with your ex after the divorce. You do not want to be best friends if you can help it because that would send too many mixed signals to your children—they'll never give up the dream that someday you and their dad will get back together. It will also prevent you from moving on with your life. You will always have some emotional attachment to the father of your children but you should not put yourself in a position of hanging onto the past. With a little emotional distance, the past can look very rosy—and forgetting why the decisions were made can pull you into a great deal of internal turmoil.

Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This

When I separated from my first husband, I knew it was the right thing to do. But after a while of living on my own I started to doubt myself. He and I went out to dinner and we were on our best behavior. We sustained it for a while, but it wasn't long before we fell back into our former pattern of argument and hostility. That cured me of any ideas I might have had about getting back together.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

When your decision has been made and the details have been ironed out, you have to deal with the real issues of the divorce. Your children are going to need special attention to help them adjust to the changes in their lives.

Here are a few of the things to watch out for with children of divorce:

  • Children of divorce often become skilled manipulators. Do not fall into the “buy-me-this” trap because you feel guilty.
  • Children of divorce may have some backlash adjustments that do not appear until later. Just as you do, your children need to work through their feelings of loss and insecurity.
  • Children of divorce may try to blame you for things because you feel you deserve it. This is a sure way to lose the balance of power in your home. You are the Mom, so you need to be in charge.
  • Children of divorce may cling to you while they go through the adjustment to the new family structure. Don't be alarmed. It will pass. Just give a lot of hugs and reassurance that everything will work out, even if you are not sure it will.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motherhood © 1999 by Deborah Levine Herman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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