Before you think I have my life together and I know all too well what it’s like raising two kids and I’m doing a superb job at it, it’s far from the truth. Both my kids are different. Both my kids are children from divorce.
So I’ll be doing a series on blended families, and I’m so excited to be able to do this and learn from other families.
Amra’s from my first marriage, Raaziq is from Zunaid’s second marriage. They are my kids and I love them. We are a blended family but more important than that, we are a family!
I’m very fortunate that my best friend is a psychologist and also has a blended family and I have really learned a lot from her and been guided when it comes to handling a situation.
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However, with Amra being older and knowing my parenting style already, I was thinking of going easier on Raaziq – considering that he was new to the divorce idea, new to a lot of things in the family and I thought him being handled with kit gloves would help with his transition. However Zunaid felt that if Amra was raised a certain way and he was happy with the parenting style, Raaziq would need to follow suit as we had rules in our home and weren’t changing it to accommodate anyone.
While writing this post and thinking about it, it was Zunaid who did a lot of the evolving…not just as a person but as a parent too. He went from a meek battered man to a confident “takes no shit” kind of husband and daddy and that’s what I’ve really admired about him.
Before we can continue, here are the terms and conditions regarding my views on divorce and children:
- You may not agree with all my views, but they are my own and it’s that very stance on how I raised my daughter (and the same approach Zunaid has adopted to raise both our kids now conjointly with me) – and the result – a happy-go-lucky little girl child, who people are actually astonished, comes from a divorced home.
- Each parent has their own home rules and as some people who read my blog take things very personal, always thinking I am things as specific people, even tho I have never done this (and writing this statement is merely ridiculous to say the least) this blog post is merely some insight into what happens in our family and not aimed at anyone.
- Zunaid has read this blog post and is fully aware of it.
- Views expressed are aimed at anyone, rather our experience of raising children of divorce.
- Not all cases are the same, I know this, – so I know I can’t paint all situations with the same brush – and you need to know that neither can you when you read it.
- Being a woman, doesn’t always mean I’ll side with a woman. I was divorced. Now I’m married to a divorcee. I definitely know the sides of a man and woman – so you can never say I’m all for the woman. I’ve been and dealt with both sides of the spectrum.
A child of divorce will never receive my pity or special treatment
Harsh but true. Children from divorce haven’t lost a parent to death. One or two adults, realised that the marriage wasn’t working and did something about it. These kids, instead of witnessing a loveless couple, are able to see two people who are out to seek their own happiness and are doing something about it. These kids now get two (happy) parents, two homes, two birthdays and a new happy dynamic to their lives – really something a child who comes from a normal married-parent home wouldn’t necessarily experience. That sounds pretty rad to me; and definitely doesn’t deserve to be all aboard the pity train.
The “white picket fence” life doesn’t exist
Yes, this is real thing. So real, that I needed to post about it:
More than often, we find a parent who is hell bent on the “white picket fence” syndrome. What is the “white picket fence” syndrome you ask? According to wecollide.net, white picket fence syndrome, “is a state of mind where a person blindly holds on to the idea of their perfect lifestyle, regardless of the inevitable life factors that make it impossible for it to be true.”
That “white picket fence” syndrome then goes into overdrive upon separation/divorce. Tactics used to get said ex-spouse back becomes more and more theatrical once the road to divorce starts, and in the end, when all else fails, the kids are used as part of the showcase. These kids are told things like “daddy/mommy has a new family”; “daddy/mommy’s new person is the reason we can’t be a happy family”, “you know daddy/mommy has to go be with their new family” (and I’m sure there are a lot more that are out there but I have been told my many that a lot of things get said in a theatrical way)– note: it’s about this time, that a disgruntled ex-spouse is completely oblivious to the marriage and time they did spend with former spouse to fix the relationship but now, the “white picket fence” syndrome is in overdrive and any imaginative story that fits a scorned ex-spouse will work better than accepting the truth. They will even believe the theory and drama in their head and make people board that crazy train, i.e. a toxic person/narcissist.
But what does this mean for the poor child – the child becomes moody, angry and even goes into battle mode when they need to spend time with the other parent (and/or new partner). Why? Because these kids are being indoctrinated that to be happy, they need a “picture perfect family” and because mommy/daddy left, their dreams of happiness left too. These poor children are then at a tug-o-war as they don’t want to choose sides and this result in a tarnished childhood and a tarnished adulthood.
No, this is far from the truth because:
- When it comes to marriage/relationships – no one can ever break something that was already broken
- Using your child in the battle is wrong, cheap and tasteless. Children should never have to choose and more importantly children should never be used in the war between adults.
- Before you are ready put your child through the services of a psychologist, as the adult enduring the divorce, why don’t you grab a seat first on your psychologist chair, so that you can help the cause to raise a happy contented child.
Parent as ONE
Something any remarried couple will tell you – parent as one. Zunaid and I may have different parenting styles but I’ve learned from him, and very quickly, is that we stand as one when it comes to parenting and disciplining.
Kids are smarter than you think
Yes they are, no matter how young they are. They know right from wrong. As an adult, if you are broken, don’t break that child. They didn’t ask to be put in that situation.
Love is love to a child
Ever hear the phrase “that’s my child and you’re not their parent – I’m their parent and I will decide what’s best for my child?” I know you have. Most times when I hear that, I just want to say “ever wonder what they want?” or “are you thinking about yourself or are you really thinking about the best interest of the child?” When adults are out fighting, there needs to be an adult of reason in the child’s life who needs to think about what’s in the best interest of that child. In every situation, there is always one parent who wants to just be left alone and move on, while there is another parent who is out on full mode to continue the drama. However with that circus happening, that child yearns for at least one adult to be the person that they can turn too, one they can depend on and know that everything is okay. What parents need to realise is that no one can replace a parent, but a kid is just a kid and needs love and understanding and deserves it.
Conflicting parenting will happen
Since a child now has two homes, it is very important to establish ground rules if one of the parents have moved on. I get that not everyone parents the same as you me. And I’m quickly learning that. However Zunaid was the one who told me, “in our home, our rules apply“. It’s especially vital that both parents speak one language as stand as one. Here are some of the examples in our home:
- Greet – A non-negotiable
- Please, thank you, I’m sorry – are non-negotiables
- Pray – also a non-negotiable
- No lies and trouble-making
- Leave your attitude at the door – we don’t do tantrums – ever.
- Sharing is caring
- No pull-ups in our home – as Raaziq is almost 4, we can’t wrap our heads around the fact that he comes to us in pull-ups yet he wears an underpants and uses the toilet by us. Yes people do ask us. And while I’ll come up with an excuse adn reasoning as why he does, Zunaid is more blunt and will say “ask his mom”.
- Eat what we eat – no one gets special treatment and special meals (I’m fortunate in that none of my kids have allergies) – but no, you eat what we eat and you don’t get up until your plate is clean – including all the vegetables. Also no juice or water while you eat.
- And Zunaid’s favourite rule: in our home, our rules will be adhered to and respected.
If you are the new parent in the situation, you need to realise you can’t fix the world. Also while you endure moments that leave your head scratching, breathe and assess the situation before making a decision.