The Hardest Part About Getting a Divorce: Lack of Control

getting a divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

There are many, many heartbreaking and difficult aspects of getting a divorce. There is shock, sadness, fear of change, loneliness, frustration, the feeling of failure, anger resentment, and so much more. But there is one thing that I believe might be the hardest part of getting a divorce: lack of control, specifically when your kids are with your ex.

This article idea came from a Facebook message I happened to see, in which a mom who is getting divorced wrote about how her ex refuses to put a helmet on their 8 year-old son when he is riding his bike at his house.

The ex knows that putting a helmet on the kid is very important to his ex-wife, so why doesn’t he do it?

Three possible reasons come to mind:

1.  He doesn’t care about the safety of his son.

2. He is lazy.

3. He wants to get back at his ex wife by making her worry.

 

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I don’t believe #1 is the case. Of course this man cares about the safety of his son. #2 is a possibility, although how hard is it to put a helmet on a kid? It takes 30 seconds. So, that leads me to #3, the passive aggressive way to get back at his wife to whom he’s getting divorced.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know anything about why these two people are getting a divorced. For all I know, the wife cheated on the husband. Maybe the whole situation is really unfair and the woman could be a horrible person. That is an extreme scenario, but the point I’m trying to make is, even if this woman is horrible, why would the guy put the child at risk by not putting a helmet on him? Does he hate his ex-wife more than he loves his own child?

When two people are getting a divorce, you will always lose some lack of control, including when your ex is with your kids.

So, let’s talk about how this woman (and all people getting divorced) should handle the lack of control you have. Here are a few things this woman could do:

One option is, she could call her attorney and complain. What will that do? The attorney can draw up a court order to have the kid wear a helmet. By the time it gets to court, summer (and probably fall) are both over, (so it won’t matter anymore until next spring).

 

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The guy’s attorney will respond and the lawyers will go back and forth talking about it. Nothing will get done, or the guy will agree to have the kid wear the helmet and both parties will end up with attorneys fees of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Furthermore, even if the woman spends the money with the attorneys, and her ex has a court order that he must put the helmet on his child, he STILL might not adhere to it.

By the way, this isn’t an attempt to bash divorce attorneys. It’s not them, it’s the legal process of getting a divorce.

Another option the woman has is, she could try talking to her ex and asking him in a nice way to have the kid wear the helmet. But if the guy really has a lot of resentment and anger towards her, that conversation will make him not put the helmet on the kid even more!

That is why the hardest part about getting divorced is lack of control when your kids are with your ex, especially when they are really little. It’s scary and unnerving, mostly because if you got divorced, there must be a good reason, and in so many cases that reason is lack of trust or an addiction problem or abuse.

Unless a judge has ruled in your divorce that your ex can’t see the kids, or he or she has to have supervised visitation, you have no other choice than to hand over your kids to your ex when it is his or her day/weekend. That is extremely difficult for some people. I get it!

 

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I find that what goes through people’s minds is, they are feeling like they aren’t there physically to protect the kids, and it causes tremendous anxiety and stress, not to mention incredible guilt.

But here is the point I want to make. In order to live a happy life, you have to relinquish control and wipe the fear and guilt out of your head. It’s not easy to do, but that is the best choice. It is a frustrating and horrible feeling, but what are you gaining by being worried and stressing out every time your ex picks up the kids?

Now, if you truly think they are in danger, you have to contact your attorney. In your heart, you will know. And, a lot of times, people tend to take their own baggage from the relationship and transfer those worries onto their kids. For example, your ex might have been mentally abusive to you, but he or she loves your children and will not treat them the same way. In your gut, you know whether or not that is the case.

 

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On a side note, if you do feel the need to bring up charges against your ex—because you believe he or she is abusing your kids or putting them in some kind of danger, do not hesitate! The time and money is worth it to keep your children safe.

That said, if you believe in your heart that your ex truly loves your kids–regardless of how he or she feels about you, then let yourself relax and realize that he/she isn’t going to put your kids in danger. They might not do things the way you like–they might not eat healthy or brush their teeth before bed or do their homework, but your choices are to stress out about it or control what you can when they are with you.

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The good news is, things tend to get better with time, as the divorce becomes more of the distant past and the kids get older, more independent, and more self-sufficient.

Like so many things in life, we have no control over what happens when we aren’t around, and no one on earth would tell a man or woman not to get divorced so that they can watch over their children 24/7, (making sure they wear a bike helmet.) So, all you can do is make wise choices, listen to your kids, listen to your gut and maybe try communicating with your ex if you can. (It’s worth a try.)

Again, if you ever think your kids are in real danger, you must take action. But barring that circumstance, the best life is a life with minimal stress, (and by the way your kids feel your stress too so it’s better for them if you are without it) so get rid of toxic thoughts and have a little faith. Those are things you CAN control.

Like this article? Check out, “Divorce Advice: Keep Hating”

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

14 Responses to “The Hardest Part About Getting a Divorce: Lack of Control”

  1. Leah Weintraub

    Jackie, you bring up such an important subject in this post, that many more divorcing parents, and divorce lawyers need to pay attention to. The family court system has failed. Children’s lives are being ruined.

    Reply
  2. Joseph Hogue

    Okay this is the truth. And we have to face if we get into this situation. Although i believe there is always good behind a bad scene. If we cannot solve the issue it is better to get seperate. Nice post

    Reply
  3. Raise Tough Kids

    1. He doesn’t care about the safety of his son.
    2. He is lazy.
    3. He wants to get back at his ex wife by making her worry.
    4. He didn’t grow up wear a helmet and fell from his bike 100s of times. Helmets are great for pros and high risk situations, but hardly necessary for kids riding in the street (usually).

    Reply
  4. Beth blog

    Your enthusiasm and subjects are helpful – divorce is hard no matter which way you dice it. I started blogging (an amateur) but they are journel notes of 4 years of kicking the can in the family court system

    Reply
  5. Bobby5000

    Good post, I think the answer is (4), he does not believe the helmet is really needed. (Yes there is a small risk of injury in his mind but then again football also has some risks) and he does not want his wife telling him what to do on his time. What to do. First acknowledge what the post said, she does have a lack of control ( the ability to impose choices on a spouse). Ideally there can be good divorces, with reasonable consultation. In such a good divorce, one spouse may compromise in the interest of harmony. Books on emotional intelligence like critical conversations talk about approaching these tough questions. Some negotiation and compromise is possible too.

    Many divorces do not allow this type of compromise and she needs to simply accept that during his parenting time, he can do what he wishes.

    Lawyers can be a problem. Since they are paid by the hour they tend to agree with their client as long as they can be compensated and you can see this.

    Pam, I am can appreciate what you are saying, you are such a loving mother,and he
    is doing this just to be difficult. He has a problem, you know that.

    Jack, I understand your situation, your wife likes to exercise her control even though the law does not permit that during your time.

    These are tough calls, and as this sensible post notes, spending kids’s college savings or your rent money may solve the problem.

    Reply
  6. Michael Watson

    Excellent article and so true. I know first hand how difficult this is for any parent .I know this from my own experience and the experience of many parents I have worked with.
    The loss of control, pain, guilt and helplessness are terrible for any caring parent to cope with and yet they have to see the bigger picture and make the best of their life and their child’s life in whatever way they can

    Reply
  7. Aleisha

    You mention that your ex might be abusive to you but not the kids. Wrong! An abusive person is the same to everyone under their control. Two years after I left my kids are starting to complain about how their father treats them. I feel bad because I was able to leave but they don’t have a choice and obviously they are starting to notice the difference in emotional tone between my place and his. At least now they have one healthy poi t of reference and in a year or two they can decide for themselves where they want to be.

    Reply
  8. myangleshub

    You mention that your ex might be abusive to you but not the kids. Wrong! An abusive person

    Reply
  9. Hannah Frank

    I think we are missing the point that if the kid can ride a bike, they can also put on a helmet. The parent should speak to the child directly about how important his/her safety is, and practice putting on the helmet. This should be the KID’s responsibility. They are big enough at that point to understand safety and the attention should be on having the kid do it themselves.

    Reply
  10. afsanakhan

    You mention that your ex might be abusive to you but not the kids.
    At least now they have one healthy poi t of reference and in a year or two they can decide for themselves where they want to be.

    Reply
  11. Aleisha

    You mention that your ex might be abusive to you but not the kids. Wrong! An abusive person is the same to everyone under their control. Two years after I left my kids are starting to complain about how their father treats them. I feel bad because I was able to leave but they don’t have a choice and obviously they are starting to notice the difference in emotional tone between my place and his. At least now they have one healthy poi t of reference and in a year or two they can decide for themselves where they want to be.

    Reply
  12. Nile Clara

    This was actually helpful for me and i am glad to know about all those things you shared. It fantastic and I think it will continue in the future as well.

    Reply
  13. candy crush saga

    The most miserable is the kids if their parents don’t do these things well. Your post will be useful to many people. they need to prepare better before divorce.

    Reply

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