An Open, Honest Letter to Divorced Parents

My parents got a divorce when I was in fourth grade. They both got remarried within a few years, and then they both got divorced again. My first marriage ended in divorce. I have lots of friends who have marriages that ended in the same tragic way. Divorce can be a dirty thing, but when there are kids involved, sometimes you have to suck it up and do what's right, even if you don't want it.

Being both a divorcee and the child of divorced parents, I've just about seen and heard it all. Here is my letter to divorced parents:

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Dear Divorced Parents,

Please realize that when you get divorced and have children with the person you are separating from, you still have a commitment to deal with your ex-spouse for the well-being of your children until they are grown adults. By 'grown adult,' I don't mean old enough to reliably pass phone messages back and forth between the two of you. You are still responsible for communicating with your ex in matters regarding your children, and no matter how much you despise them or don't get along, it's your job to find a way to communicate about these things. That burden should not be put on your kids.

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You and your ex most likely have at least one thing in common still: You both love your children and want the best for them. This doesn't mean you can use that against your ex to make them give you what you want. Your children are not pawns. They are not prizes to be won. They are not players that have to pick a team. They are still your children, just like they were before, and they should be able to love each parent equally without feeling guilty about it. 

Divorce is not a game of monkey in the middle. You are still a functioning family unit, but you just have to figure out how to function a little differently now. There should be no reason to get the children involved in disagreements, even if it has to do with them. Children are not old enough to handle the responsibility of marriage, and equally, they are not old enough to handle the responsibility of divorce. 

Your children are not your ticket to an easy life. They are not dollar bills running around your house. Your children are living, breathing human beings and not just a monthly source of income from your ex-spouse. Your sole reason for wanting custody of them should not be so that you have a lighter financial load. More often than not, people have to downsize their lives when they get a divorce. It sucks, but it happens. Your child support is not meant to maintain the way of life you had before, but to help maintain the quality of life for your children so that the effects of the divorce are lessened on them. Parents are the ones who should take the brunt of the change and disappointment that comes with divorce. If your child would truly be better off with the other parent, but you refuse to give them up because you can't afford your bills without the child support you get from having them, who is really affected here? Get a cheaper place to live, and give your children the life they deserve. If you only have custody of your kids for the child support, you are no better than a deadbeat parent who doesn't pay child support.

When you divorce someone, your input on their life decisions ends when it comes to anything that does not affect your children. The kids are not your link to have control over what your ex-spouse does. Threatening to go back to court every time your ex does something you don't like only makes things harder on your children. Making the life of your spouse harder only makes for an unhappy parent, which in turn affects the kids, and isn't the end goal to keep the kids happy?

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The bottom line: Just go on with your life. Divorce is what it is. You are going to get hurt. You might feel resentment. You might want revenge. But the best thing to do is to be the best person you can, so that you show your kids that in times of adversity, you can pull through. The kids may not seem happy, at times, but then they get older, and they will appreciate the parents that went the extra mile to care for them, rather than the parents who tried to use them as pawns or shower them with gifts for the lack of being there for them when they need it. And in the event they have to deal with their own divorce in the future, you will give them hope that things will work out.

Sincerely,

Divorced Kids Everywhere

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