As a teacher who grew up with two families I have always had a passion for understanding how to best help children cope with separation and divorce. As much as we all hope it wont happen to us, there are many, many children and their parents doing their very best to cope and move forward in a positive way when a marriage goes wrong. I recently asked fellow early childhood blogger, Angelique Felix, to share a little of her story of coping with separation and her strategies for minimising the impact on her then 3 year old daughter, Chanel…
“Love means being together. Unconditional love means letting go.”
My child lives in two houses.
She has two birthday parties.
There are two special friends in her life: the new companions of her mom & dad.
She is used to the number 2.
The number of separation…
My ex husband and I were separated almost 2 years ago.
He is Italian, I am Dutch. Our daughter Chanel was born in Italy 6 years ago.
The differences between us and my personal change, after surviving breast cancer, created too much distance to bridge. We separated.
It has been a challenging time since that moment.
The first year was all about surviving. Asking myself:
What can I do to help my child feel good?
Where do we belong now?
How will I be financially able to maintain the two of us?
And a tricky one: How will I deal with the absence of my daughter? I cried thinking of all the moments that I would miss because she is with him, and his new partner. I was sad, angry and blaming my ex-husband. I felt a victim of love.
Time passed by. Only by living one day at a time did I manage to get on my feet again.
The believing in me, in who I am, gives me the strength to share with you that what balanced me:
- I was not only surviving but also taking time for me, to heal. Without “me time” I wouldn’t have been able to transmit serenity to my child.
- As parents, my ex-husband and I were both committed to not speaking bad about each other in front of Chanel.
- I reminded myself again and again that a child doesn’t belong to its mother or to its father. Actually no person belongs to another person.We are all independent beings, no matter our age, sex, religion, culture, mental or physical condition. WE ARE FREE! By giving freedom to Chanel, she has the possibility to make her own choices. When she wants to see her dad, she has all right to do so. She is not judged for whatever she is expressing.
- It’s my conscious choice to stay and raise my child in Italy. It comes from my heart, so I know I can’t go wrong. I trust that I will always have enough financial possibilities for living.
- I observed Chanel a lot while she was playing. So I was assured I could and can step in to help her deal with her emotions. I wrote about it in this post, “The Deep Meaning of a Child’s Play.”
- Chanel loves her dad, as much as she loves me.
Even if the number 2 is very much present in Chanel’s life, sometimes there is just a big ONE. When Chanel graduated there was one couple of parents coming together. Crying of pride! Because we are no longer husband and wife, but for always Mother and Father of Chanel, our daughter.
Thank you for sharing your truth, Angelique.