By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
When the “other woman” is in the picture, divorce can be vastly more complicated for divorcing parents. (Of course, it’s the same with the “other man.”) However, the challenges that can come with the “other woman” and infidelity don’t change the parenting rules.
Of course, you’re coping with tremendous emotional turmoil. And you deserve to be heard, validated and treated with great compassion at this time. But your kids deserve great compassion as well!
When you’re a parent it is essential that you don’t make the big “never do” mistakes when talking to your children and dealing with the OW – as tempting as it may be to do otherwise.
Here are 4 “never do mistakes” you must avoid to show you love your kids more than you hate the “Other Woman”!
- Sharing adult information with your kids, even teens. Don’t bring up the OW unless the children already know about her. Don’t discuss adultery and other complex adult issues, despite the hurt and pain you’re experiencing at this time. Instead, reach out to a therapist or divorce coach for professional help and support. Confide in your friends – not your kids! As tempting as it may be, minimize the conversations about the why behind the divorce. Focus instead on the continuation of your family as a family – even after the divorce – and the co-parenting your children can expect ahead. Divorce is a change in the form or structure of your family, but it doesn’t have to dissolve your family. If both parents take that to heart, your children will find it easier to adapt to the changes ahead and take comfort that they haven’t lost either mom or dad.
- Badmouthing your partner around or within hearing of the children. That includes phone calls, talking to the neighbors or quarreling in another room. He’s still their Dad. Your divorce issues are adult issues. Children love both of their parents. They are confused and hurt emotionally and psychologically when they hear one parent put down the other. They feel guilty for loving that other parent. Are they wrong? Do they have to take sides? Asking that of them puts enormous pressure on kids – even teens. When you feel like exploding, vent to friends, family, therapists or coaches!
- Downplaying the importance of working on your self-esteem first. Remember, the OW has nothing to do with your value as a person or a partner. Don’t move into competition with her. She’ll get her just returns in time when reality sets in. Don’t stoop to levels beneath you by putting yourself down or fighting with your ex about her. I know this isn’t easy – but it’s important and also therapeutic for you. Find ways to embrace your new life, to move on and open the door to your happier future. That’s the first step to reinventing yourself. Do the inner work first so when you are ready you will attract a new partner worthy of you! Reach out for professional support to ease the struggle.
- Making your kids feel guilty for liking the OW. This is a difficult situation. But it’s crucial for you to remember that you’re a role model for your kids. They are looking to you for guidance in how to handle life challenges. By showing your maturity and compassion for them you are modeling adult behavior they can emulate. Remember, your kids are innocent and didn’t ask for any of this. But they can move ahead into the next chapter of their lives much more successfully if you are there for them, showing your best side – even when it’s tough!
Divorcing when an “other woman” is involved can be exceptionally painful and life altering. You need to take care of yourself, get the support you deserve and find a way to be the parent your children deserve as well. While this reality is never easy to face, as a parent you have no choice. With support you can overcome the obstacles both to your self-esteem and to your life goals.
Most important: keep in mind that your innocent children should not pay the price for either parent’s questionable behavior or coping challenges. They need your love – and mature, responsible parenting – more than ever before.
Need immediate help? Contact me to discuss a Coaching session to give you the skills you need to get on with your life with pride. That’s a gift to give yourself as well as your kids. Reach me at [email protected].
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, her Coaching Services and valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.