This Father’s Day is quiet for me. My kids are grown and live on their own. My ex has passed away and the kids have quietly seemed to move forwards. In fact, it’s too quiet. Stillness does many things. One of the most profound is the space it gives for us to review our lives and actions and how they affected those we care for most. During this week before Father’s Day we have been bomb barded with advertisements, interviews from Dads, and stores filled with all sorts of gifts to delight Dad’s heart.
I was taken back to a time when I was a divorced mom struggling with most of the responsibilites and my ex out and about dating and having fun. I remembered the nightmare of past Father Days having to see him and considered how my attitude and behavior affected my children’s development and mental outlook now.
Every roof has a leak!
In my case, the fact that he married my first cousin was compounded by my Mother’s exaggerated downright vicious rebuttal on his marriage didn’t help matters.
Honestly though, I knew better. Nothing gave me a pass to react so negatively to each holiday, phone call, birthday card. The snickers, remarks under my breath, rolling my eyes, and out and out verbage that just was down right mean.
I lashed out because I was tired, overwhelmed and hurt. Balancing a career, graduate school and being the head of the home was a lot for me.
Who really gets hurt when there is anger?
You, your ex, the extended family but most importantly, young defenseless kids who didn’t deserve to hear, experience or be put in the middle of yet another bad day of living in a divorced home.
Now I would treat Father’s Day and all encounters with my ex completely different because I see how important my thoughts as a Mom determine the success of my divorce, the kids’ lives, and their relationship with their father.
“If I knew then what I know now.“
So today as you wave goodbye, exhausted from carrying the load for raising the kids, as dad zooms in for a lovely, stress free afternoon with your little ones….please, for the sake of the babies you love so very deeply remember this tips:
1. Your unloving thoughts about your ex does affect your mental health, physical state, and your future.
Thought: If you are broken, how can you help anyone else?
2. Since your children are created from both you and your ex, children often project your negative comments about their Dad personally to them because they identify with him so deeply. He is part of them and that will never change, like it or not.
Thought: Your unloving thoughts radiates about their Daddy determining their self image.
3. Your disgust, disconcern, and lack of empathy for your ex sends subliminal messages that it is OK to talk about, retaliate, and emotionally attack someone you once loved.
Thought: You are the most significant model in the character development of your children. Bullies and lies often start in the home and manifest on the playground and later into their adult relationships!
4. The idea that you could turn on their Daddy leads to feelings of insecurity. Their development often conjurs messages like, “If she doesn’t like Daddy anymore, maybe she will dislike me if I do something wrong.”
Thought: Fear and Love cannot co-exist in the growth of a happy life.
5. Boys and girls need a male model to emulate and lean on. No one can do it all, teach it all, and cover all of the bases needed to help a child grow up. You are hindering your child’s growth when you discourage the opportunity for him or her to explore Dad’s life, his strengths, and his time.
Thought: Do you really want to strip them of their right to have a male model in their life?
6. You as the mother are the heart of the home. If your heart is not healed, how will others have a role model to do the same. Lessons about forgiveness, kindness, looking forward, and learning from even the worst of circumstances is your responsibility and your gift to your children.
Thought: You as MOM are the most powerful influence in the future of your children. Rule with gentle strength not harsh words of war!
The next time the kids are going with Dad, help them get ready, go to the door and wave good-bye, smile, and then take a few much needed hours of rest and relaxation knowing that your kindness helped make their visit a success.
As for me, I’m going to call my kids, tell them I love them and mention something their Dad did when he was alive that will make them at least take a moment to remember that they came from good stock no matter what I had said in moments of pain and personal anguish.
Happy Father’s Day Mom!
PS: It’s more about you than you can imagine.
April of Course