"Throughout this book, I felt Bruce had a secret window into my own life and private thoughts. Many private feelings I am currently dealing with were addressed and revealed in a manner that made me feel it is not only normal, but I am truly not alone in this. I was surprised that I cried while reading it and the comfort that the words brought me. I read tons of self-help books, among other types of books, and this book actually gives me hope and things to look forward to. My tears were from the fact that I am facing the words I read. I have been getting negative feedback from outside sources and these words reassured me not to listen, keep them out of your life and do what is right. The section on the other home/parent opened my eyes and freed me. I did not go into reading this book thinking it would help me on such a deep emotional level." ~Dorothy Justice, Vice Chair-Community Action Partnership

March 27, 2012

Should I leave my spouse?

single parenting, divorce, children are a priority, decree, parenting
Family Reflection/ Beth Jeffrey
There’s a new epidemic hitting our families and its called Single Parenting. In the U.S. alone, we reached an astounding 40% of all live births that are now to unwed mothers. Our Y Generation or “20 some-things “ are leading the increase with an astonishing 30% pregnancy rate out of wedlock. In the same recent U.S. Census Report, 29.5% of all households are now single-family status with children.

Two U.S. Senators from Wisconsin are making a stand on the trending statistic in their home state; a bill aimed at public awareness, based on a rise in domestic issues toward children resulting from single parenthood. When we have children and are considering leaving our spouse, we are delving into a world that leaves
our children and ourselves vulnerable. Unless we are wise to the impacts of single parenting on our children, we will fall into the same domestic statistic being raised in Wisconsin.

What subtle issues?

When my marriage was over with my children’s mother, I wasn’t thinking about some of the more subtle issues that became contentious while impacting my children. Before the final decree, all I could think about was I had four little girls ages 2, 4, 6, and 8, and I was 34 years old. We had just moved across country through a company relocation in May of that year, we stumbled through Christmas, and we separated. Everything happened so fast.

I was scared for my kids and I felt guilty; I felt I was letting them down. I was leading down a path with too many questions about my children's future and few answers. In the mid 1990’s, I had joined the ranks of over 8 million single families with children according to the recent U.S. Census Report. The same statistic by 2011 is over 14 million single families combined.

The new household status changes the way we raise our children, where we live, when and where we work, and who is in our children’s lives. It’s a new world in single parenting; a large subculture of divorced co-parents, widowers, parents with an absent spouse, and parents who never wed who argue on the true meaning of single parenting and who qualifies.

Children's rights.

Our children deserve our greatest focus. They don’t have a say in the new household status, yet they will be the ones who will lose in the transaction. Some would argue its really best to separate, rather than to allow your children to be subjected to a household of fighting, crying, lackluster love, and negativity.

Divorce has consequences we cannot escape. When negotiating a divorce, we focus too much on lawyers, friends and family who have an opinion on the matter, who will be custodial parent, visitation rights, vacations, residential schedules, material belongings, living arrangements, travel/ transportation guidelines, holidays, etc.

We neglect to discuss the rights of the children. By example, who will be involved in their lives, what discipline methods and by whom, communication guidelines, contact with our personal friends/ dating partners, parent to parent etiquette, and child sitting or daycare guidelines, etc.

These are the subtle items you wouldn’t think about heading into a separation and are not found on typical state parenting plans. As an extension to this plan, developing an open pact with your co-parent and attaching to your legal documentation would primarily serve the best interests of your children in the long term.

Open a pact with your co-parent.

If a parenting plan is not required by your state, it may be wise to have one submitted as an addendum to your decree to make it legally binding. In hindsight, if I were to extend my parenting plan, I would want it to read something like this:

  •         I wont make impulsive decisions on who enters my children’s lives
  •        I wont make poor remarks about the other parent
  •        I wont manipulate my child or use them as a vice 
  •        I’ll be careful and mindful on where and with who I leave my kids
  •        I’ll provide my co-parent first right of refusal to watch my kids
  •        I’ll show my kids how they can rely and depend on me
  •        I’ll always regard my children as my highest priority
  •        I’ll always model exceptional personal behavior
  •        I’ll let my kids focus on being kids
  •        I’ll communicate co-parenting issues privately 
  •        I’ll build a safe environment with my new living arrangements 
  •        I’ll present children medical emergencies to my co-parent first
  •        I’ll provide conscience decisions regarding my kids nutritional requirements
  •        I’ll always maintain both co-parents as primary emergency contact information 
  •        I’ll always maintain respect for my childs relationship with others
  •        I’ll always accept my child’s needs over certain impulses I own

Extending the parenting plan would have helped my own situation I think. Having something in writing could have saved a lot of arguments and confusion in the first years. Having this significance about the children documented in writing and submitted to the court is more important, in my opinion, than any other part of the decree.

I was scared but we persevered.

The first two to three years after separation was very challenging as both parties adjusted. Depending on the age of your children this may be compounded by their confusion and anxiety. I don’t believe my youngest could put together the right questions to ask until she was nearly eight or nine. My oldest was terribly upset from the beginning.

The short of it is I was scared leading into single parenting, but we persevered. I always made my children my priority and I believe this helped develop a safe and loving new living environment for my children. This essentially eased on the new arrangements. Feeling safe in a consistent and predictable healthy environment may have served more to my children than any other factor.

There were plenty of challenges coming from the other household; though I stayed the course on a consistent plan with my children. Years later as issues and problems surfaced from the other household, I went to court and brought my children home full time.

Early on I grew with my children through coaching and sports, individual date nights, doctor’s wellness visits, etc; anytime I could find to be with them and show them I took stock in their lives was important. I learned children are resilient. They are smart and they can handle more than you’d think, provided they know you will always be there.

My kids success today is a testament to the consistent and predictable love, support, guidance and being a dependable and reliable person in their lives. We grew together, we won the battle, we grew some more.

Enjoy what you have read? Share my message!

© 2012 Bruce Buccio

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your candid honesty. When parents divorce it can be easy to get wrapped up in the process and inadvertently be distracted from keeping the kids at the heart of all the decisions. Great job with the checklist, being mindful of interactions with exes is essential to prevent parental alienation.