“I Just Want My Mom and Dad to Be My Mom and Dad!”

Life can be weird for children of divorce.

Sometimes you need an escape.  We started taking the children on road trips; shortly after their mother and father had officially split.  Adventures and memories!  On one of those trips, however, my youngest stepchild brought me crashing down to reality.

She was skipping alongside me on our way to our favorite hot spring.  Suddenly, she let out a cry of frustration.  “When I’m with dad, I miss mom, and when I’m with mom I miss dad!” she vented.  She was only five, and she needed her mom and dad.  “I just want mom and dad to be my mom and dad,” she confided to me.

Really, this is what all children want, as far as I can tell.

Children of divorce want the same things any other child wants; to be loved and taken care of. That isn’t an incredible ask, but if you look at your average divorced family, it is a rare reality.

My favorite bio mom/step mom blog is about two families (with a focus on the moms) that – hear this – get along.  Yeah.  That’s it. The feat of getting along is enough to render them superhuman.

Why is this such a big deal?  Because so few of cases end this way.  So few families manage to prioritize harmonious living, for the sake of the children.

“Please don’t leave us!”

We like to believe that our children are as invested in our marriage as we are, as parents.  Truth is,  children ultimately don’t care if their parents stay married or in love.  They just want both parents to take care of them.  They want to feel like dad is still their dad; that mom is their mom.

Even by 5, my stepdaughter had moved past the idea of her parents getting back together.  She would occasionally ask, but without much emotion.  Just a vague curiosity if her mother and father would get married again.  The older ones, 7 and 9 at the time, had no interest in that, and, moreover, held firm beliefs that their parents would never get back together.  Still, all three wanted their mother and father in their lives, caring for them, and working together.  “Stop fighting!” was their mantra.

In reality, what they want is very simple.

Children, post-divorce, are still the same children.  If you provide a healthy co-parenting situation to the children, they will accept you don’t love their other parent (at least not in a committed, romantic sense).  They will accept that their lives have changed.

But most importantly, they will know that you love them.  That is what they care about.  That is what they need to survive and stay connected to the mother and father they loved dearly as a small child.  That is what they need to be a family.

Best of luck to you and yours!

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