Taking a stand during your divorce may cause your children to perceive you as The Bad Guy. During a divorce, it is almost inevitable that there will be contentious issues that you'll have to take a stand for.
As much as I would've liked for my divorce to proceed smoothly, unfortunately, many divorces turn out to be acrimonious like mine. Needless to say, it is not only difficult for the husband and wife, but it is also hard on our children.
Since my children were older teenagers while our divorce was happening, they had much to say about it. They did not always agree with my choices especially when they were not in favour of the other parent. These choices coupled with negative comments from the "ex" had my kids thinking that I was the The Bad Guy. My divorce presented a unique situation where my ex actually went to jail to avoid paying spousal support. The court’s decision was based on both his financial responsibility and his ability to pay.
I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years and had just turned 50. I found myself having to start a new career and be financially independent. Yet, my ex was the owner of three successful and lucrative companies that had more than enough income to pay support and still maintain his lifestyle. This long and painful process lasted more than four years and resulted in the suspension of his driver’s license, his passport and lastly a court order to pay support or go to jail. Just a few weeks prior to my ex-husband's court date, my then 16-year-old son came and asked if we could talk.
I remember we were sitting in my car when he asked me to please not send his father to jail. He said I had the power to stop all of this and what good would it do if his dad didn’t have the money. I was The Bad Guy. In this moment, I could see the stress and panic in my son's eyes as he tried to convince me to change my mind. I had a pit in my stomach at the thought of sacrificing myself in order to make my son feel better. Not only was he asking me to give up what I was entitled to, but more importantly, he was asking me to give up my sense of power and control to my ex-husband. Again.
As stressful as it was, I didn’t give away my control. I didn’t compromise myself while also maintaining a close relationship with my son. In the end, my ex went to jail for 21 days and still didn’t pay support. It wasn’t until he was faced with an additional 90 days in jail that he finally settled.
I want to share this story with those of you who have had to make difficult choices, especially when the ones you love and cherish oppose your decisions. My choices were the right ones for me. My choices did not make me out to be The Bad Guy. My son and I remain very close to this day.
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I thought I'd share the framework of my conversation with my son at that contentious time in my life:
- I acknowledged how he was feeling and that this was such a difficult situation
- I thanked him for talking to me and I listened to him without interrupting
- I did not get defensive about my choices
- I explained that I didn’t expect him to accept my decisions or see my point of view
I did, however, let him know that the final decision was mine. I explained that I was not The Bad Guy, but that I was making a choice for something I believed was just and fair. I also shared that his father would also have to make his own choice. My approach was one of love, safety, honesty and integrity. If we compromise who we are, we compromise our ability to teach our children to be true to themselves, especially when it is not easy. I am not The Bad Guy.
I am KellyK Professional Life Coach and I work with clients who are anywhere in the divorce process.If you are looking to harness your own power and reinvent yourself after a divorce, you just found it. I also went through one of the most challenging life transitions through my divorce.
Today, I am a divorced mother of three, a successful entrepreneur and the happiest I have ever been. As your coach I will help you transition to a place of feeling less overwhelmed, empowered and in control of your new exciting life.