When divorce is decided and kids are involved it takes a little time post-divorce to realize that the relationship that just broke down needs to be fixed.
Whilst you walk away from a marriage when children are involved it is not a clean cut end to the relationship. Perhaps no contact with the ‘ex’ may work for some families but I wanted something else. I couldn’t help but think that this would impact our children’s wellbeing and I wanted them to see that the two adults that they both dearly love are respectful to one another. I knew that if I wanted to be a good role model to my children then I needed to somewhat mend the relationship with their father. It was a realization I had when me and my children’s father began to bicker in front of the kids, I knew we could not continue for the sake of our children and somewhat their father, he doesn’t have that many Muslims in his life, coming from a Nigerian, Christian family it dawned on me that I and my family may be some of the only Muslims in his life, we forget dawah begins in our home. I feel like things are getting better, I mean he still calls my mum and dad, mum and dad, Alhamdulillah. My mum even occasionally cooks Jollof rice and her famous lamb kebabs. I want the best environment for our children and for them to see their parents in a respectful relationship whether married or not.
To teach your children to be kind, you need to embody it yourself, it’s practical not theory. Ultimately the children involved will bear the brunt of bad moods due to conflicts that can arise and they do not deserve it. Whilst we are still finding our way and things aren’t perfect, they are better and we both separately want the best for our kids so that means we have to get on and improve our communication. There are a few things both parents can do to improve the situation and it does come with time, so be patient and make dua for it.
I would advise if abuse has been involved then these steps may not apply and the road perhaps requires an arbitrator or middle person of sorts as well as individual counseling.
We aren’t smiles and laughter all the time but things are better. I believe that co-parenting can be a positive and pleasant experience for all concerned but you have to actively work towards a better relationship. The truth is perhaps hating each other seems easier because the smiles that arise post-marriage remind you of better days gone by and the what if’s, but both me and my children’s father are happy in our respective lives or at least striving in our own way Alhamdulilah.
I know, I know this seems impossible now if the divorce and marriage got messy but the sun will shine again. The first step is actually for both parties to accept the divorce and decree which allows you to then work on yourselves as individuals. Hanging on to hurt serves no purpose and whilst I am not advising you bottle it all up, there will be a time for you to move on and healing looks different for everyone, heal as you need. As cliche as it sounds, hating each other is fruitless and achieves nothing, having a hang-up about the divorce can be a big barrier to progress, whilst you can’t control and shouldn’t control someone else behavior all you can do at this stage is focus on your own and model the behavior and responses you wish to receive.
This is easy if the step before this is followed, no child needs to witness either parent bad mouthing the other, no matter how annoying the other is. Do we really want to teach our kids that back biting is ok? Our children model behaviour and the last thing you want to model is speaking ill of others in front of them, we need to remind ourselves we are roles models and we need to protect their souls and ears! If you are concerned your child was affected by the divorce what can be much more detrimental is continued hate and backbiting of the other parent, it’s never too late even if things are ugly now they will improve once you make a decision to. Your children will also be able to recognise their mother and father respect each other and they will thank you for it in years to come.
This may not be for everyone but me and my ex-husband did begin with a good marriage and had great moments before and after the kids, it has been important to remember those times so that I am reminded to see people in good light, often we allow ourselves to remember only the bad. He taught me a lot and me him, he did look after me and we have two beautiful children together. It helps in re-building the relationship and realising you have to like each other some what to get along and do the best for your children and that the children have a great person in their life. I am not telling you to love them like you used to just begin with tolerance if it’s that bad then build upon that.
The children are with me much more and their father does miss out on a few moments so I always make an effort to share little things in our week, it initially was hard because it’s a habit right to remember to message him when I had an ‘awww’ moment but it’s so positive because the next time he sees or talks to the children he can engage with current events in their life and the disconnect disappears somewhat. The biggest thing, they are equally happy that their father is aware and present in some way and you see it when their little faces light up in surprise that Daddy knows they did something brave today like climbing to the top of the frame in the playground. It also creates a two way street and when the children are with him he will send me messages and images or video of them, which I appreciate.
Mothers by default are the ones who do more research around the Childs development or food habits to educational choices and whether married or not, we often do that in isolation and after reading ten blogs and watching videos then talking to friend we make big decisions and then tell the father the final decision, whilst you may be right they have not been privy to the journey and it can come across abrupt as well as non negotiable. Whilst it may not be necessary and you are the key decision maker, day to day, it can make the other parent feel left out and we just don’t need to contribute any more emotions to the situation. I have a few rules like the children can only drink nut milk or organic milk and I sat down and explained this choice as well as occasionally share articles. I know mama, I know you are already doing so much and this seems like a lot but for me personally, it has helped and that’s the key message, do what works for you and your family.
When it comes to visiting the kids, we have an open policy, so Daddy can see his children when he wants and the kids can see their dad when they want. We have tried to have fixed dates but it just didn’t work for our family and we are at a point where we are a bit more flexible. The phrase “Do not let your mood dictate your manners” ultimately you are both working through your relationship and there may be disagreements but this should not affect visitation, the kids should not be used for emotional blackmail of either side, leave your kids out of it, it is not healthy behavior and in the long-term benefits no one.
Wherever you are in the divorce journey know that if things are bad they won’t always be like this and you can control your own interaction and behaviours only. Ultimately you are a role model to your children and are responsible in providing them with a secure and loving environment void of toxic behaviour, this begins with maintaining civil and healthy relationships with those in their life and thus honouring yourself. I know it’s not easy but it is important to ensure you are emotionally secure and have taken steps to addressing any emotional turmoil experienced, divorce can and is hard even if mutually agreed.
The one piece of advice I can give you is to make dua for good.
I also want to take time to thank everyone who helps us both and positively contributes to a better relationship. This isn’t the family in books but this is our family and we are trying to give our kids a better world so they may make a better world Insha Allah.
Co-founder of Amaliah amongst many other roles. Selina is passionate about empowering those around her and just trying to be a better person. She loves looking after plants and a good cuppa because motherhood and running Amaliah.com is not for the faint hearted. She is also Co-founder to Aishah and Eesa and currently a one digit mother, Alhamdulilah. You will find her in the local charity shop, garden centre or park with her kids. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at [email protected]