Remember it's not a competition.
This is one of the most difficult parts of divorce. Where once, it was you and your spouse with a common goal, maintaining a household and raising the children, life as you know it is changing. Try to remember to make "raising the children" your common goal STILL.
Maintaining that goal is tough when one of you gave up your career to stay home with children or limited your career in some way during the marriage and your ex-partner is still bringing home (to a home other than yours) a larger salary.
Try to remember that the decisions you made during the marriage were the right ones at the time.
Maybe your spouse is already moving on and married or with someone else.
It is damaging enough to compare yourself to others in society but most especially when in this situation.
You may find yourself in a situation where you're doing most of the parenting. You'll begin to ask questions like, "Why does he or she get to be the FUN parent?"
Remember that your children will pick up on this sense of competition. They can and will use it against you.
No doubt about it, being the disciplinarian is a thankless job. You also have to remember that you're raising a PERSON... another hopefully healthy, functioning member of society. Parenting is a time when you want to focus on your kids. However, as a person going through divorce, you will experience a wide range of feelings about that, as well.
At first, you'll feel guilty as if you've failed or damaged your children in some way. It will feel like torture to be away from them when they're with your ex. You will feel lost, angry, sad.
There may even be other times that you're resentful that you do everything and perhaps your ex doesn't. Then you'll feel guilt for feeling resentful.
There will be a continuing circle of feelings to struggle with, depending on your situation and your relationship with your ex.
ALL PERFECTLY NORMAL FEELINGS.
Now, let's acknowledge those feelings and the fact that you aren't the first person to feel them. Next, let's try not to judge ourselves for having those feelings. Now... what are you going to DO about what's upsetting to you?
Are you going to stay home and stew in them? Are you going to slander your ex in front of your children? Are you going to stay in victim mode or are you going to make a plan to do things differently?
There's nothing like action to give doubt the middle finger.
Try exercise. Try venting. Call up a friend to go to a movie or to be a designated driver for a night out.
If you're really brave, you can write down all of your fears and follow them to their destinations. It's the unknown that's frightening. Stop the unknowns of your fear by turning around and facing them with answers.
Next, figure out how to make the most of your parenting experience AS IT IS NOW. Make a vision board of a new future for yourself. Connect with family or friends you haven't talked to in a while. Find something that makes you laugh.
You might even try an exercise in remembering what was GOOD about your marriage. What drew you to your spouse? In what ways does your ex show love for the children, during the marriage and now? Make a list of things about your spouse that make you smile, even if it's a wistful smile.
Can you keep an open heart to this person, even if they are moving on without you?
If you can see your ex with love, even in spite of the fears, frustrations and doubt, you just may build a beautiful co-parenting relationship that serves you, your ex and YOUR CHILDREN well.
Everyone can sense how others see them. Put your ex in the shoes of an enemy or competitor and they will act like one. Maintain a sense of partnership in the business of raising healthy, happy children, and you just may find a whole new partner to meet you halfway.
How do you handle the sometimes competitive feelings that arise from divorce and parenting?
Please note: I am writing this series based on MY experience with my divorce and co-parenting. I chose a great man to marry and divorce. Every situation is different. I still believe, however, that some of the tips here will help single parents/singles anyway.