Adjusting to a Single Parent’s Life
For a parent, beginning again on your own after divorce can be a difficult transition. It can be hard to handle your own pain while maintaining a sense of normalcy for your children. There is also the matter of making decisions and shouldering expenses alone while devoting most of your time and energy to rebuilding your family. Although getting comfortable will take time, it is possible to overcome the challenges of adjusting to a single parent’s life.
Expect it to be Difficult (At First)
Chances are, when you had kids with your former partner, you didn’t expect that your relationship would end in divorce. Now, your hopes and dreams of raising your children and spending your life together are over. On the one hand, you may be overwhelmed by grief and anger, be mentally and physically exhausted, and feel like you failed your children and marriage. On the other, you may be thinking now that the divorce is final, you should just be “over it.” Don't put pressure on yourself to get past these emotions immediately. Grieving and working through your feelings is a necessary part of healing and moving towards acceptance. There is no perfect time to be “over it.” Everyone’s process is different and it’s okay to feel sad, regretful, mad, or any other emotion you need to feel so you can work through your experience.
Your Relationships May Change
While being divorced is not uncommon, you may encounter surprising responses from people in your life once you are on your own. Some can be judgmental or offer unsolicited advice about what is best for you and your children. Others may not be comfortable spending time with your family unless both parents are there. While it can be hurtful to hear unwelcome comments or to be excluded from activities with former friends, you may have to distance yourself from or even end some of these relationships. A positive support system can make all the difference as you and your family transition into your new life. By shifting your focus from those who tear you down to being with people who embrace and accept you, you can minimize negativity and get the encouragement you need.
Your Ex Will Probably Frustrate You
The concept of co-parenting seems like it would be all about working together and being on the same page about your kids. However, even the most detailed and well-thought-out parenting plan cannot capture everything when it comes to raising children. For instance, when you share time, the rules at the other parent's house are probably not going to be the same as yours. Despite your efforts at home, when they are with the other parent, your kids may eat things you disapprove of, watch shows you forbid, and go to bed well beyond their regular bedtimes. There can also be issues with having to adjust your carefully crafted parenting schedule because of other commitments. When a parent refuses to be flexible with reasonable schedule change requests, it can make co-parenting much harder. Expect you and your ex to hit some bumps as you get used to this new dynamic and do what you can to pick your battles and keep conflict to a minimum.
Becoming a single parent is not always easy, but it is possible to adapt, develop a positive attitude and create a loving home for you and your kids.