Thursday, April 4, 2019

For The Single Parent: Children and Transitions

childhood, parenting, motherhood, fatherhood, coparenting, divorce, single mom, single parent, transitions, childhood transitions, grief, loss, change

When parents and child(ren) live together in one home they're a family unit.

Regardless of how the day plays out, the child(ren) knows that they will return home to that family unit - together - whether they go to work, school, travel, whatever they are out and about doing, that child will - at some point - be under the same roof with his / her parents. Two parents. Whatever the combination of parents that may be.

When couples divorce, it's a brand new world for them. And for their children.

Brand. New.

These kids, they're learning that what they trusted. What they expected. What they thought would last their entire lifetime and beyond? Is no longer there.

And boy, it hurts. It stings. It's freaking confusing. Painful. Head-shaking.

And so, when this child, this beautiful child of yours who you love with your entire heart, goes off to spend time with one parent instead of both, as they used to? It is perfectly normal for that child to feel torn. Like, almost literally, because the confusion and pain they feel, to them, a kid, small or big, is severe.

Maybe mom talks about dad to the child.

Maybe dad is rude to mom in front of the child.

Maybe it's the most amicable divorce known to (wo)mankind.

But these kids are experiencing the transition to beat all transitions.

And when we parent our children from two separate households? The transitions multiply.

I won't infer that they double, because that would lead one to believe that all co-parenting arrangements fall equally at 50-50. Which would be bullshit, as we know they do not.

But they multiply.

Think of when your kid had the most meltdowns as a toddler.


Think of how they struggled with the unknowns.


Think of how you soothed their fears whenever something startled them.


Now think of what their life is like. Packing a bag to go back and forth from one home to the other. Reminding themselves that this - THIS - wherever this is - is also their home now.

Backpacks. Schoolbags. Duffles. Suitcases. Stuffed animals. Electronics. Journals. Books.

And clothes. Oh, goodness, the clothes.

All new transitions. These things lived in one home, under one roof, for so very long. And now they, just like your child, travel between two.

If you are the primary parent, you may find that you receive the brunt of the frustration of transitioning. You probably find that you're never quite sure which version of your child will be returning home to you that particular day.

I'd like to say this will go away.

But I can't.

It does, to some extent, as our kids get used to the changes. As they find themselves more comfortable in two houses. As they make the other place "home," too.

But it doesn't disappear.

There will always be those days when they return home and give you so much attitude you don't know what to do with it.

You'll want to tell them to go to their room and stay there until they get through this shit.

You won't. Or you might. But try not to. Not right away.

Although, honestly? They're probably going to WANT to go to their room. And not process this shit, but just to hide for a bit, ease into returning home to you, their pets, their space. And maybe - depending on their age - they'll yell at you. Or maybe they'll cry. Or maybe they'll say "At Daddy's!!!!" or "At Mommy's!!!!" and fill in the sentence with what the other parent lets them do.

And you'll bite your tongue because Daddy or Mommy doesn't see what you do. They see a different version of the child. Or they do see it and want to make everything okay. Because their time is limited. It's changed. It's different.


When your child(ren) returns home to you from their other parent's home, it's so so different. And regardless of what point you're at in your separation, divorce, or co-parenting journey, you'll find that your child is emotional, probably exhausted, and really just needs you. Just - plain and simple - you. To listen, to not. To hug them, to not. To cook their favorite foods, to watch TV with them, to make them finish their homework and clean their room. And before you blink you'll be back on track on your own routine again.

Until the next time.

Because transitions. They're a part of life.

And as our kids (and we) experience them, we want to do all we can to make things easier. And smoother. And so, we try. And we may fail. But let us remember. We're doing the best that we can.

1 comment:

Comments are like air to a writer.

So please - say something - help me BREATHE!