Making the decision to end a marriage is never easy. When you have children together it becomes even more difficult.
Do you end an unhealthy marriage and contradict your desire to keep your children safe and secure? And is there really even a contradiction there at all?
As a parent, it is a natural instinct to protect our children. But there is a difference between keeping them safe from harm and keeping them safe from life. There are times when we need to soften the blows and times we need to let life’s lessons teach them some hard truths.
And so when do we stay in our marriage and when do we move on knowing that both choices have the potential to teach our children that from out of great pain may come the gift of true and authentic relationships?
And most importantly, why is it so hard to trust that they will be ok?
My pediatrician said a life-defining statement to me when my kids were young. He said: “You can do everything wrong but if you do it with love and intention your kids will be fine.”
He was, of course, speaking in the context of my worrying whether I was feeding them properly, dressing them well, keeping them warm, and putting them to bed when I was ‘supposed’ to.
But in that moment I realised that my children were going to be all right, despite my idiosyncrasies, mistakes and fears. I felt a shift in my parenting as I discovered that things were really going to be okay and that I did not have to worry so much.
My children were incredibly capable and wise. Even as babies they knew when they were hungry, when they were wet, when they were tired. As they got older, they knew when they were cold, when they wanted to run around and when they wanted to sit still.
And, in turn, I was able to celebrate the wonder of my children because my own agenda really was not that important. It wasn’t about me. My role was just to give them the support they needed to grow and to love them with intention.
So if you do decide to embark on a divorce, keep your kids in the forefront of your mind. Be deliberate, thoughtful, honest and kind so they will learn these things too.
Allow your children to see that life is messy but we can make it through the tough times. That is our best gift to our children; preparing them so that they can make it down all their different paths with grace.
Personally, I believe our job is not just to protect our children from life but to allow them to live their own lives, experiencing the highs and lows that come with this.