A Child-Centric Divorce
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There are many reasons why a marriage may end, one of them being when two people grow greatly apart and consciously divorcing is a more mindful approach for each other and for the children.
This was the case with me. After nearly 17 years together, we had grown apart and making the brave decision in 2016 to uncouple was the best for ourselves and for the children.
We wanted to show our children that two people can come together through a difficult time and still co-parent and communicate together.
And we did not want to model for our children two people unhappy in their marriage, as this would result in setting a life-long negative example for their future relationships.
There are times when uncoupled two people thrive, and this was our case.
And it was during this time that we also committed to a child-centric divorce. Here are the ways we uncoupled while keeping the kids in mind.
We began what’s called “nesting”. This is when the children remain in the marital home, but the parents each rent their own places. In nesting, it's the parents that rotate in and out of their home, instead of the children. It’s used as a transition for the children, through the divorce process.
We each got inexpensive rooms to rent so that the cost of three different living spaces was actually the same as the cost of two places (that could house the kids). In other words, renting two rooms for each of us was the same cost (or less) than renting a new house with 3+ bedrooms.
How long did we plan to nest? I don’t remember that we had a deadline…but it turned out to be 2 ½ years.
It wasn’t always smooth, but we made it work for much longer than most couples practice nesting. The children were doing well and thriving and it was the direct result of nesting.
Holidays in a Child-Centric Divorce
The first year, we celebrated all holidays together as a family and the second year, we did partial holidays together. Into the third year, we began to rotate holidays, yet always having the option to participate in some of the holidays together. Birthdays celebrations are a family event.
When we finally ended nesting, we each got our own places for the children. Once again we communicated to make the transition as easy as possible for the kids, including being always willing to bring things to the kids if they forgot something, spending one-on-one time with the kids when the other had custody, etc.
A lot of healing happened through the process of uncoupling, as well as a lot of growth.
Now into our third year (it’ll be four years in September since our decision to uncouple), we have reached a new level of effectively co-parenting, including better discussions on each child’s needs, how to best parent each child, monthly co-parenting therapy, ongoing communication.
Children Deserve a Child-Centric Divorce
Our children know that we found divorce a healthier and more mindful choice for our family, they get to see us as better parents and people not coupled together, they know we are on their side in supporting them through the process, and they see us co-parenting together.
Divorce is a hard, but brave choice to make. The most important thing to remember is that should you choose to uncouple, you CAN do it child-centric.
It’s also important to note that children do not need to hear each parent negatively comment about the other parent. In fact, quite the opposite. The children are healthier in a divorce when they hear each parent talk POSITIVELY about each other.
Growth Through Uncoupling
Even during the more challenging parts of a divorce (and believe me even a child-centric divorce can have some deep valleys), there is still hope to emerge in growth. And this too was our case.