Creating a Great Parenting Plan
Do you have a Parenting Plan for raising your kids now that you are a single, divorced parent? It will help you make it through the tough times of your divorce.
If you're a divorced parent, you know better than even I do how busy your days can be with all the things on your To-Do list, answering your kids questions, hauling them around to their activities, being sure their homework gets done. There are always arguments to resolve and clothes to prepare for the next day. Sometimes, you just want to quit and give yourself a break. But that is not an option, is it?
Children don't understand overwhelm. They don't understand not having enough money. They don't understand that you need advanced notice for their school project supplies. They don't understand that bunches of kids yelling and laughing can get on your nerves. They don't understand their arguing can drive you nuts. They aren't aware that you don't have their other parent to bounce ideas off any more and it's a burden and a pressure for you. They don't see the full picture.
But you do. Step back a few paces and look at the whole picture objectively. Try to see down the years to their graduation or their wedding. It's that long view that will help you hang on in there with the courage necessary to persevere with your Great Parenting Plan. You have made a plan, haven't you?
The Great Parenting Plan is where you are all dressed up, dabbing the tears from your eyes, watching your child walk down the aisle at his graduation. It could be a high school graduation or a college graduation. That all depends on your plan. You want to take yourself in thought out to that point in the future where your child graduates and begins to move off into his own life, fully self-sufficient and capable. The idea is to get him to that point from where you are right now and where he or she is right now.
Working backwards from that moment in the plan, but always keeping that in the forefront of your thinking, will help you get through those challenging moments that create overwhelm, those moments when you might not even want to be a mom or dad anymore. But you just can't quit being their parent, can you. Your kids are here and they deserve your best. It is your golden opportunity to summon up all of your resources and give it one heck of a go.
It takes courage to persevere with the Great Parenting Plan, and it takes thinking problems and challenges through thoroughly to unfold that courage. One of the nicest aspects of parenting is that the things you need to do the job are all built in. Yep. You had them when you were born. You've been building them while you lived your own life. This parenting task is like getting a Ph. D. in strengthening virtues!
What happens is that your kids provide some test for you - they test your patience, or your courage, or your ability to love. And you have the option to say "Yes, I can" or "No, I can't." Sometimes when you really think that you can't, you still say I can and then you do. Have you ever noticed that in life, when you make a commitment, somehow in someway the fulfillment for that commitment seems to just happen.
When I was a young parent, I needed a reliable car. Car wasn't in the budget that month, but we needed that car. I made the commitment. I don't remember ever not making that payment easily. Somehow, in someway, the fulfillment for that commitment seemed to happen.
And the same thing will happen when you decide that, come what may, you will exercise the courage necessary to persevere. If you determine that, by gosh and by golly, you will persevere in doing the absolute best job you can to be their mom or dad, the courage that it takes in the moment (that'd be the moment when you're exhausted and they need a ride downtown) you will bring up the courage to set yourself aside and provide what they need from you. And you will do it over and over again.
You'll forget those moments until you see them walk down that aisle in their gown and mortar board. Oh, they'll have asked you "Mom, please, please, please, don't cry at my graduation" and you will really try. You'll really try. Being an overwhelmed divorced parent will disappear. Only you will know of all the times when you set yourself aside to care for them, of all those hundreds of details you handled to be a good parent, and you won't be able to help those escaping tears. They're tears of joy. I know.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Stauffenger's parents taught him life's simple wisdom. As a divorced dad, he wanted to share that simple wisdom with his girls. "Getting Over It: Wisdom for Divorced Parents," his book, is the solution. Len is an author, a Success Coach and an Attorney. You can purchase Len's book and it's accompanying workbook at http://www.wisdomfordivorcedparents.com