I have been reading a couple of great books recently that have reminded me of something very important:
We don’t own our children.
They are not our possessions.
We certainly have a responsibility for them and are stewards over them. While we value them as our dearest treasures, they are their own independent people that we simply have the honour of guiding over a period of time. They are “on loan to us”. We need to take this honour and priviledge very seriously, but not abuse it by treating them like our possessions.
I went out for breakfast this morning with a group of gals from my “old neighborhood”. I actually only moved a few blocks away, but had to switch schools and leave my beloved street so don’t see these gals much anymore. It was nice to catch up and hear about all the changes. One woman had split from her husband a couple years back and was sharing some divorce woes that everyone seems to have – and they are all similar.
In passing, however, she commented how she had gone to her children’s school concert, “even though it wasn’t her day”.
I have always found comments like that a little bit bizarre. When you divorce, you divorce from the adult spouse – not your children. Why does “who’s day it is” matter when it comes to the kids? I have never cared less about stuff like that. My child has something going on, I will go, regardless of where they sleep that night. But it is so easy to fall into the trap of “My days” language, because that IS the logistical side of divorce. We have done it many many a time. But I think it needs to really change.
This woman’s comment was timely as Rob just yesterday morning had a chat with the kids about exactly this.
He talked with them about the fact that regardless of “who’s day it is”, the kids always just have one Mom, one Dad, one StepMom, one StepDad. Their beds and rooms are always here for them, regardless of where they sleep. They are loved and thought about 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by both sides. The days, are not “Dad’s Days” or “Mom’s Days”, their days are “THEIR days”. They just happen to be sleeping at Mom or Dad’s house that night.
The kids (moreso than the boys) have really struggled with this. Their personalities and their behaviour even change depending on “who’s day” it is. We have really encouraged them to be themselves, develop their character, make the same choices and decisions wherever they are: school, friends, Mom’s or Dad’s. Take ownership of who they are and who they are becoming. Slowly, the older ones are getting it.
But as adults, using language such as “it’s My day”, or “it’s My time” really sends a wrong message to them. It makes them sound like possessions. It makes them feel that their life is split and defined by the divorce.
I want to be more careful about the message I send in the language that I use. “My day” should only be referring to “MY actual day” and not “the days when legally the boys are assigned to me”.
The sad fact about divorce is it does become about the logistics, the division of time, and the guilt of the parents, because, essentially, that is what the law and the money tied to the law create. While the law should be protecting “the best interests of the children”, it often doesn’t and we, the adults and stewards, need to be putting the children first, above our needs and certainly above the money tied to divorce and child rearing.
We need to remember that our children did not choose divorce, and they don’t need to pay the price of divorce anymore than they already do. These special children are only on loan to us; they are not our possessions which we are entitled to have a piece of. I want to encourage them to “remember who they are” and live according to the values they are establishing wherever they sleep at night.
In the grand scheme of things, we are all just part of one big eternal family anyhow, living in different homes.