Many things fall under the umbrella of my divorce and parental responsibilities as a parent. I am not only responsible for watching over my children's health and safety and providing for their basic needs, but also for teaching them about the world and what they need to become independent. Numerous things that I will teach my children include basic life skills such as hygiene, how to read, and eventually driving.
Every bit as important as functional daily skills that my kids must learn, are skills of emotional competence and healthy relationships. I want my son and daughter, as well as my step-kids, to grow up to be caring, giving, and loving partners in relationships where they are treated with respect and equality. I hope for the children in my life to develop into adults who won’t suffer through heartbreak or divorces; but, they won’t just magically become these people without my help!
Although relationship skills can be taught through discussion and practice, they are most often learned through example. Children trust and admire the adults around them, and parents and others have the greatest exposure, therefore the greatest opportunity to model desired behaviors. The relationships their parents, grandparents, and other key figures have will most likely become the sort of relationships they will form.
The question is, what relationships will our children be a part of, based on our examples?
If you or your partner are selfish, controlling, deceitful, detached, manipulative, untrustworthy, or abusive, this will be downloaded into a child’s relationship database just as much as positive traits like generosity, humor, grace, devotion, or forgiveness.
Some children grow to become conscious of the faults and relationship foibles of their parents and are able to consciously work to overcome those traits in their own relationships. Just as many children, however, unconsciously repeat the relationship patterns taught to them since earliest memory.
This is how I decided that I had a duty to do better for my kids because I wanted them to have and become better than I was. Yes, I could have stuck it through my marriage until my dying day to fulfill my vow or because it would set the example for my kids of staying in a marriage; however, a marriage like their father and I had was not what I would want for either of my children.
Because children learn by example, they would have experienced a first-hand lesson in what not to do in a marriage! I didn’t want them to either never want to marry after witnessing how miserable their dad and I were, or (worse) end up in a marriage that is just as dysfunctional. Using their father and my relationship as a model, my children were destined to become bad partners or look for (or accept) traits in partners that would, at minimum, make them miserable.
Parents want the best for their children. We hope that all of our efforts in raising them will result in them having more advantages and opportunities than we had. Perhaps they can earn the education or good-paying job we couldn’t? Maybe they will have more opportunities for travel and financial stability than we had? We should hope, just as much, that they find a loving and fulfilling relationship where they are treated well, happy, and able to share life with a soul mate!
Choosing divorce over marriage as one of your parental responsibilities and divorce
Just as I owe it to my children to help them with their homework, teach them manners and how to cook to prepare them for life once they leave my home, I owe it to them to show them the way in relationships. I owed it to my children to divorce their father to demonstrate to them that they should not continue a relationship where they are mistreated physically, emotionally, or otherwise. I owed it to my children to give them fully-functional parents who were capable of being happy and able to give their best to parenting because they weren’t bogged down by depression.
I owed it to my children to show them the necessity of standing up for themselves and caring enough about themselves to make happiness a priority.
I owed it to my children to show them what a healthy and happy relationship should look like. For the first time, my children have witnessed their mother receive a present, be told she is loved, have a door held for her, have someone make helping her a priority, and a partner enjoy having a conversation with her and her presence, all courtesy of their step-dad! I want my daughter to be cherished and appreciated by her mate, and I want my son to be a considerate and present partner.
Not every lesson in life is a pleasant one. My kids will learn about death, dishonesty, taxes, and a number of other unpleasant subjects. They have learned about divorce at close range. They are not old enough to clearly remember what life was like in our home before divorce, and I’m glad I was able to rescue them from that.
It is my duty, as a mother, to care for my children, love them, protect them, and teach them all about life. I feel that within my job description to help give them the best life possible, includes giving them a home free from a mother and father who can’t get along. Divorce is never a pleasant option; but, I used it to help make a better life for my family. I owe my kids the best I can give them, even if the best is divorce!