The Dirty Little Secret Of Divorced Parents

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Divorced couples admit that having down time away from their kids allows them to be better parents.

Kids have fuller schedules today than they did in their parents' generation. These parents juggle to fit sports games, play dates, music lessons and other activities into their family's weekly schedule. As a result, parents are more stressed than ever and it is taking a toll on their relationships with their spouses. So, how on earth do moms and dads take the time to relax and recharge? 

When it comes to this question, married parents may have something to learn from divorced parents. While most of what I hear as a therapist relates to the trauma and pain associated with divorce, a number of clients have disclosed a surprising sentiment: they secretly like the time off from parenting.

One of my clients — a divorcée and mother — put it this way: "I feel terrible admitting this, but I cherish my down-time each week. It rejuvenates me and leads to a great amount of patience and positivity when I am with my kids. I totally lacked this in the past. I sometimes wonder if what my ex and I really needed was more help with the kids, more down time and more romance." 

Another client — a divorced dad — said the same, admitting: "It wasn't until we separated that I truly invested in quality time with my kids. When we were married, it was as if we were stuck on this gruesome, endless treadmill of chores, meals and obligations. I was just trying to get through the day. I'd read books to my kids and have no idea of the plot, because I was thinking about what I would say in the emails I needed to send when I finished. Now, my time with the kids is limited and precious and I make the most of it. I listen to them and I'm totally in the moment."

Many divorced couples admit that they recharge during their time away from their children and become — albeit in time-limited doses — the parents they always wanted to be.

Obviously, many divorces occur for reasons far more complicated than a lack of down-time, and divorces in which one parent fears for the child's well-being are fundamentally different. But for a divorced parent who respects his/her ex's parenting abilities, it is remarkably common how frequently they view their weekly break from the children as a little slice of heaven within the hellish pie of divorce. Keep Reading ...

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Elisabeth LaMotte

Counselor/Therapist

Social worker, psychotherapist, blogger and author of "Overcoming Your Parents' Divorce"

Location: Washington, DC
Credentials: LICSW, MFT, MSW
Specialties: Communication Problems, Dating/Being Single Support, Divorce/Divorce Prevention
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