My family is blended.. I have an amazing, loving boy from a previous… ummm hiccup. It’s hard for me to even call it a relationship as you can see because at the time it happened, it wasn’t. I was in a dark place in my life.. I felt abandoned by love and this young man offered me some solace for my hurt ego. I was only 18 and yet to begin healing myself.
Needless to say that joint parenting didn’t work for me. I wanted stability in my son’s life and yet despite all my efforts, I made some huge mistakes that I’m hoping to help you avoid.
So you don’t do what I did.
So you don’t inadvertently hurt your child…
And unintentionally send the message that they are not good, worthy, loveable.
There’s a natural order to love in families and when that order is honored then we give our children the opportunity to grow and thrive and a solid sense of themselves. When we don’t… we create unconscious disturbance and issues within our children around their sense of worth.
Honor the Order to Love… The parents came first
The first order is that the parents come first. Yep… that relationship is king. Without it, there would be no child. It’s in that relationship that for that moment in time, you created this child. Then the next order to love is the children, in order of birth (even for miscarriages, still births, terminations). When we honor the order of love, we encourage balance and connection for our children. In a marriage, it’s the strength of this relationship that supports the healthy growth of the child.
Even in my case, in that instant of creation, I willingly wanted what was offered to me and I chose to bring my son in to the world knowing I would most likely be his primary parent. This needs to be acknowledged in any situation where there was a willingness to the act of creation.
Without that acknowledgement, that this child was created in an instant of love, you bring on an unconscious energy of rejection for the child which permeates much of their life.
This is where single parents and divorced parents often fall down. We get so angry at that partner that we want to degrade them and their place in the child’s world and when we do that, we send the message to the child that they are also unworthy of love.
Because the child comes from both of you.
And if the other parent is an @#$!!, then they must carry that burden too.
“The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.” William Shakespeare
You may want to deny this but just think about it…
Let’s take an example…
I saw this play out in my Family Constellation workshop yesterday for a young man (and new parent) who had been denied access to his father (of Maori descent) and who felt lost and disconnected from who he was. He was seeking a sense of who he was. We develop a sense of self from our family of origin. The loss of the father and the Maori culture left him without and anchor and a lot of anger towards his mother. Because of his Maori heritage, everyone in society questioned his culture and he had no answer for them. He couldn’t bond with other Maori’s like they wanted him to, so he avoided them. Even though it was clear that the mother acted out of love, the exclusion of his father and his culture meant that she left him with a confusion of who he was and his place in this world.
How to avoid this Major Single Parent mistake
Honor thy parent. Be loyal to the other parent by acknowledging their place in your child’s family and give them respect.
Even when that other parent is not around, or the kids are not around to hear your anger. The energy of rejection hangs over you. If you are unable to do this, then get help to come to terms with how it is, and build a language of acceptance that frees you and your child from your judgement.
Honor how this child was created and share the story in the best light for the child.
If there’s culture involved, honor that! Help the child connect with that part of who they are.
Honor that we ALL have the capacity for both good and bad in us all… it’s our choices that matter… and often it’s our emotions that drive those choices.
Teach our children that fundamentally they are not good or bad (get rid of labeling), and talk instead of how emotions drive behaviour.
“You’re so angry at your brother for taking your toy that you lashed out and hit him.”
Talk about how they can express their emotions safely.
“Getting angry is OK… how can you let that out without hurting someone?”
Build the bigger picture for them…
“Mummy’s really hurting right now and because she is hurting, she needs help so that she can make good decisions. She loves you, she’s still you’re mum and I’ll always have a place in my heart for her because together we created you.”
“When I’m angry at your dad, it means I struggle with how he’s behaving right now. All of us can make mistakes, we all can do bad and good things. When we don’t let our emotions out safely, we often make the wrong choices and behave in a way that can be hurtful. I can see your dad is struggling. I know he has it in him to be a good person too, because he was that person when we had you… when we were together.”
“I loved your dad when we created you. There was a lot of things that we didn’t agree on and we both found it hard to live together because of that. He was so angry that he walked away from us being together. He didn’t know how to stay and work through those emotions. Sometimes when we struggle and don’t know how to let it out OK we stay away from what hurts us. I know that he loved you when he could be here. ”
Avoid using the label “Single Parent”, especially when it’s actually co-parenting. It denies the role of the other parent in your child’s life and subtly sends the signal that they other parent is irrelevant and unworthy. Use a more respectful term or avoid the single parent label all together.