Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Love Your Kids ………...More Than You Hate Your Ex

Isn’t that just one of the best book titles ever? If you are divorced or divorcing and you have kids that title will give you a sense of relief or it will make you cringe. 

Because it is true that at some point in a divorce you did or are doing the very opposite—you are hating your ex at the expense of the kids. No, you are not that bad—not as bad as that other mother—the one who makes her kids say, “I hate you Daddy” or the Dad who tell the kid’s that their mother is a bitch. But still, there was a time when you made faces at or about the other parent or you said awful things about his/her new partner, or maybe you dumped old pictures of the two of you on the doorstep of ex’s new love nest. Really? 
(Jealous Woman mask from Noh theater)

In all of those scenarios you later realize that you crushed your own dignity and decency and that none—not one—not even the most supportive of your friends—thinks you are a good parent for doing that stuff. But the worst is that it hurts the kids. The kids!

Most divorced people with kids had a day or a month or some years of trying to stay together for the kids. So why, when that doesn’t work, do we fall into “Torpedoes full steam ahead” and take down her/him/them—with the kids being the biggest “them?” My god, we know better, but we have all fallen into the pit, and we feel like crap after. And the kids—whether 6 or 26—are the victims.

But it is really hard to climb out of that slough and to say “I will not bash or wish harm on my ex” and mean it. So here is this fabulous little book to help us. Helen Fried wrote, “How to Love Your Kids More Than You Hate Your Ex.” The title itself tells us that she speaks from experience and the stories will confirm that.

Her story: Remarried in 2006, Helen found the intricacy (brutal pain) of dealing with a “blended family” (war zone) to be quite trying (almost divorce number two.) She founded a support group to help others keep the focus on the kids and make choices based on the kids rather than revenge, retribution and trying to win what can never be won—victimhood.

It’s a book for all of us who are divorced, who married someone who is divorced or divorcing, and especially for the stalwart, longstanding friends of anyone caught in the hate stage of divorce. Just hand over this book and step back. It might take a really long time for the thanks to come—but it will. 

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