To the parents struggling with divorce,
I would like to share my experience with my parent’s divorce, and how it has had a lasting affect on my life.
My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. Out of spite, my mom fought tooth and nail to have full custody of my unborn sister and me. Once the divorce was settled we were immediately moved from New Jersey to the remote countryside of the Catskills in New York, away from my father and his family.
Since I was young I had always wanted to know my father. My mom had told me stories about him, some good and some bad. She spent many years blocking any attempt of contact with my father’s side of the family, but as soon as I learned to navigate the internet I began the search for my father.
I spent months making hopeless and awkward calls to anyone with his name. Many times I found myself losing hope with one dead end after another. Luckily I found my grandfather who just happened to have his e-mail address. A few years after that, I was reunited with my father’s side of the family and finally, my father. We had 24 years to catch up on. It was amazing how much my father and I had in common, and how quickly I was able to blend in with my long lost family.
As happy as it makes me to know my father’s side, it also makes me incredibly sad when I think about all of the years that we lost and will never get back. Getting to know my family for the first time was a strange and emotional journey. I hear stories of holidays and camping trips. I missed out on growing up with my cousins and all of the stories and memories that we could of had, but never will. My dad was able to spend my 27th birthday with me, but lost 25 of them. He missed out on everything from my childhood, and so did I.
On our first phone conversation, battling our emotions my dad said, “The last time I saw you, I was pulling you in your sled across the front yard. I came home from work and you were gone.” Now, being a mother it kills me to think of having a scenario where my young daughter would be taken away. I can’t even fathom the amount of pain it would cause me.
There are very few scenarios I can think of where a child should be permanently separated from a parent. Spite is not one of them. If you are going through a divorce with a child, you need to be fair to the other parent. Don’t speak ill about your soon to be ex with your child, or make it hard for the other parent to see them. One day your child will know what happened. I found out my mother made it impossible for my father to see us. Lie after lie she fed us, and now I can’t trust her and have lost all respect for her.
Your ex deserves to be a part of your child’s life and your child deserves it, too. Do not let your anger destroy the bond of a child and their parent. Using your child as a tool to hurt your ex will also hurt your child. You might think that will never be you, but people can get lost in their anger.
Sadly, there will always be pain in a divorce, but it’s up to you and your ex to maintain a healthy relationship for your child and for each other. You don’t have to love or even like your ex, you just need to tolerate them.