Divorced? Feeling Guilty?

By: Len Stauffenger

Guilt hits us all, but it REALLY hits the divorced-with-children segment. It's such a wasted emotion too, and we decided to address it so that your guilt doesn't run you right into a second divorce. Those statistics are already high enough. We sincerely want you to learn what you need to learn to prevent that from happening for you - and incur more guilt!

Let's say that you are currently going through a painful divorce. You have children and there are so many emotions flying around between everyone in your family that it just seems like a tornado 27/7! If you are getting divorced, guilt is probably one of those emotions. It's not important if you were the guilty or innocent parent. You feel guilty that your marriage failed. You feel guilty that now your children come from a broken home. You feel guilty for yelling at them more lately because you yourself have such a short fuse. It doesn't matter what the situation, the feeling is the same.

Let me tell you where guilt gets you. Nowhere! All it does is make the situation worse on a number of levels. First, become proactive and lost the self-indulgent "guilties". It's very understandable to feel remorse and sympathy for your children. After all, it isn't their fault that you and your spouse couldn't work things out. They are innocent victims. Accept it. It stinks and it's not fair, but that doesn't change one thing. You have to move on now.

What's the next step? Be honest with your children. Tell them you are sorry that it didn't work, but you still both love them and it's time to start over. Secondly, guilt causes you to make unhealthy choices for your children. You find yourself feeling guilty and you "give in" a little more. If you couldn't afford to buy them a toy before, don't let your guilt punch you into a bad decision to buy it now. How can that possibly help them? You ease up on the rules. You let them eat whatever they want. However you are indulging them, it will not change the fact that you are divorced. You are hurting them by this behavior, not helping them or easing their pain. Thirdly, you are teaching your children to manipulate you. If they haven't figured it out, they soon will. Your guilt gives them an "out." They know you feel guilty about they divorce and they will play you every chance they get. If they weren't allowed to get the Xbox 360 before the divorce, they don't get it after. The only thing that really matters to them is that they still feel loved. The material things have nothing to do with it. You will only teach them not to respect you.

You are the divorced parent. Now, you always will be. It doesn't matter how mad or sad your children may seem. It doesn't matter how much guilt you experience. They are even more resilient than you. Your children will go through this much more reasonably if you remain strong for them. Be the parent that they need. Don't turn into the "friend" and the "doormat". An alternative would be to create something new together - some activity you'd both enjoy. Spend more time together. Don't buy more "things." You as a person haven't changed. You simply are no longer married. Be the best parent that you can be. It's the only thing that really matters. You will be rewarded, more than you can imagine. And we'll feel better knowing that we helped you become a "second divorce" statistic, because these numbers are even higher than the first.

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