Divorce's Dirty Secret

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Divorce's Dirty Secret
What's the Best Kept Secret of Divorce?
What's the Best Kept Secret of Divorce?

As a therapist with over fifteen years experience, I hear a lot about divorce, particularly divorces where children are involved. While most of what I hear relates to the trauma and pain of divorcing, I have noticed a surprising sentiment among many divorces: people secretly like their time off from parenting.

A newly divorced client in her forties puts it this way:

As a therapist with over fifteen years experience, I hear a lot about divorce, particularly divorces where children are involved. While most of what I hear relates to the trauma and pain of divorcing, I have noticed a surprising sentiment among many divorces: people secretly like their time off from parenting.

A newly divorced client in her forties puts 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." 

A divorced dad in his thirties echoes this sentiment, 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."

If you dig past the pain and disappointment that devastates those who divorce, many will admit that they recharge during their time away from their children and become--albeit in time-limited doses--the parent they always wanted to be.

Obviously, many divorces are necessary and occur for reasons far more complicated than a lack of down-time, and divorces where one parent fears for her child's safety or well-being are fundamentally different.

But for divorced parents who have at least a modicum of respect for their 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.

This appears to be a sentiment heard mostly behind closed doors. In a culture that encourages helicopter parenting and over-scheduled childhoods, perhaps parents are unwilling or ashamed to admit that (while they may miss their children terribly) they sometimes enjoy being separated from both their ex-spouses and their children.

A divorced stay-at-home-dad, whose ex-wife has a demanding career, confesses:

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
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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