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Go Ask Mom

Solo Mom: Putting the kids above the clash

Posted June 26, 2012

Stacy Lamb, organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle

Those of us who are single parents by divorce often struggle with the best ways to interact with the ex. Naturally, there is some level of communication required when you are co-parenting, but how far should it go? I think the right answer is different for each situation.

Realize that not every divorce is the bitter, angry stereotype often portrayed – but those definitely exist too! I know divorced parents who hardly communicate at all (heck, some married couples hardly communicate), and rely on email to discuss only the necessary business. In these types of relationships (if you can call them that), little to no communication often IS what’s best for the child(ren), as silence sure beats outright argument and unnecessary drama.

On the other end of the spectrum are the divorced parents who can put aside their differences and remain friends, or at least friendly. I’ve seen parents who manage to throw a birthday party for their child together, even with grandparents present. Imagine having a good relationship with your in-laws even after divorce (ha ha)!

Believe it or not, there are divorced parents who still get together, with their children, for holidays. I’ve written once before about starting new holiday traditions after divorce, but it seems some parents keep the old ones going together. Personally, I think one of the “perks” of being a child of divorced parents is that you get two birthday parties, and two Christmases, and double the gifts … or at least that’s how we make the kids feel better about their parents not being together.

The real test comes with the big decisions. Legally, joint custody means that both parents make decisions with regards to religion, school and health for their children. But I’ve seen plenty of people struggle with putting aside their own motives in order to really do what’s right for the kids.

Many couples split due to their irreconcilable religious reasons, for example – and then does one “let” his/her children go to the church to which the ex belongs?

When parents live in different school districts, how do they decide where the child will go to school? Often “good schools” is a major factor when buying a house as a married couple, so it follows that education should be a priority for divorced parents as well. I don’t know of any parent who would jeopardize their child’s health simply because they’ve had a bitter divorce, though I imagine there are battles in that arena as well sometimes.

The best parents are the ones who can rise above their differences and truly put the needs of the child(ren) first. What exactly that means depends on the people and circumstances involved. I’ve seen it go both ways, and I’ve seen some very frustrated parents who are forced to deal with a co-parent that simply is not mature enough to let go of their own grudge.

We do our best to shelter our children from the pain, and we keep on trying.

Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She also is organizer for Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly on Wednesday.
 

11 Comments

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  • Solo Mom Jun 29, 2012

    I'm certainly not promoting divorce as the best way to raise child(ren) in every case, only trying to offer some positive perspective. "Double the gifts" of course is not better than the family being together, assuming it's a normal functional happy family. It's just one little way I can cheer my kids up a little in the midst of the splitting-the-holidays stress.

    As for figuring things out before you get married...people do grow and change, and you might be surprised at how many marriages this changes as well (for better or for worse).

    I am sorry for your loss, Twittyfan. I do know several widows/widowers as well as parents who are single by choice - we share many of the same issues, but there are of course differences as well.

    Regarding my personal situation, no, divorce was not my choice. Clearly some of you know more about my story than others...keep reading, and commenting - I'm happy to hear suggestions for what else you might like to read!

  • dikduh Jun 27, 2012

    @ americaneel

    Your questioned should be directed at her EX ... the one living with a former student.

  • americaneel Jun 27, 2012

    Since Stacy is opening up and imparting her wisdom on us maybe she should tell us why she got divorced?

  • carolinagirl28 Jun 27, 2012

    Good to know thought_criminal can criticize single moms as easily as he can criticize working mothers. Just hope he can keep the different posts separate and remember to attack for the right reasons on each one. Some people are just sad.

  • kenDrivr Jun 27, 2012

    _chilz:

    The blog is titled "Solo Mom". That is WHY I chose to read it, looking for resources, since I am also a solo mom. As a blogger, she should expect and welcome differing points of view. The comment about 'perks' would have rubbed me the wrong way (not offended) if I were single, married, committed, divorced, or as it is, widowed. No child should believe that material gifts can replace pain and suffering, no matter the situation. That was MY point, and really the only differing opinion I have from Ms. Lamb in this story. The rest of the article is quite positive.

  • just_chilz Jun 27, 2012

    Wow people. Give Lamb a break! I'm suprised how hostile these comments are. This is a BLOG and I'm certain she is using the term "perk" in a fun and not literal way...and I'm sure her point of view would be completely different if her spouse had passed away. This is a blog about a DIVORCED mother...so quit badgering her acting as though she offended you. If you don't like it, don't read it!

  • kenDrivr Jun 27, 2012

    "Personally, I think one of the “perks” of being a child of divorced parents is that you get two birthday parties, and two Christmases, and double the gifts … or at least that’s how we make the kids feel better about their parents not being together."

    Perks? Is that how it sells?

    As a "solo" mom of three children who lost their father to cancer two years ago, the only "perk" I can see for a child of divorce would be that they still have both parents actively involved (hopefully) in their children's lives. Ask my kids if they'd rather have double gifts, or their father back...

    "We do our best to shelter our children from the pain, and we keep on trying."

    Yes, we keep on trying, every day. But though our children's pain may differ, Ms. Lamb, it is not healed with material gifts.

  • Twittyfan Jun 27, 2012

    You may not like your ex but just be thankful you have one that your child can talk to when they want. Just go home and hug and love your children and be thankful for the life you both created. Gifts are nothing life is everything and it is short enough as it is so enjoy it as a healthy loving family and get along with each other for the children..

  • Twittyfan Jun 27, 2012

    Let me give all the divorce families a little something to sit and think about... I have never experienced a divorce but I have experienced the death of my husband!! Think of the children first and put your differences aside!! I would give anything to be divorced from my husband and share our daughter than the life I have now without him. Put yourself in my shoes and imagine your child's life without a parent and you will get along with the ex-spouse no matter what for the children..Think about the child's 5th 8th 12th graduation and college, birthdays, and all the Holidays without a parent. You think divorce hurts let your child view the body of their parent and deal with the daily pain of the hurt your child feels because my friends you do not understand hurt or the feelings of a child until you have experienced it. I am thankful I have a great daughter and proud to say I am the mother and father.. But he gets the perfect seat from Heaven.

  • thought_criminal Jun 27, 2012

    Lamb: "Many couples split due to their irreconcilable religious reasons..."

    Ummm, don't you think you should have figured this kind of stuff out BEFORE you got married and created kids? Religion is sorta kinda important to be on the same page about don't you think?

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