Next in our Karyn Lynn Grant continuing series: “Who Moved My Happily Ever After: The Heart-Wrenching Impact of Divorce on Children,” we are thrilled to bring you our second interview in the series: “Who Moved My Happily Ever After: Tips for Successful Single Parenting.”
Divorce is a deeply personal decision and this interview does not seek to pass judgment on the reasons behind such choices. Instead, it delves into how parental decisions can profoundly affect young children, both positively and adversely, once the divorce papers are signed and the challenging journey of single parenting begins.
Karyn shares her experience of getting divorced at a young age with four children and offers invaluable insights into handling children’s situations. She highlights the importance of understanding the impact of parental choices and provides practical tips drawn from personal lessons learned along the way.
From seeking the right legal representation to developing a well-informed course before divorce, this time with Karyn delves into essential considerations, with a focus on maintaining stability and minimizing disruption.
In our conversation, we are reminded that divorce need not be a traumatic experience for children. By working together, setting consistent expectations, respecting everyone’s needs and keeping promises, parents can create an environment where children can thrive, feel loved and adjust to their new circumstances.
Karyn also gently advises against introducing new partners prematurely and promises a future piece devoted to dating practices when children are still vulnerable.
Reviewing my conversation with Karyn (before submitting this interview), I decided to let you hear and feel Karyn without interruption, by asking only one initial question:
Will you share the profound impact of divorce on children and uncover the ways we can navigate the challenges of single parenting while prioritizing the well-being of our precious little ones?
I believe that young children of divorce are the ones who end up paying for their parent’s decision to part company. This second interview in the series is not a judgment on the reasons why two people should or should not choose to move on together. That is entirely a private matter. But, in fact, it is about how parental choices can affect young children positively or adversely after the divorce papers are signed and the plight of single-parenting has begun.
I chose to get divorced at age 32, as a mother of four young children, ages 10, 5, 3 and 1 ½ years. I will not expound on the reasons that I chose to divorce but rather, what I have learned in hindsight about ways that I could have handled my children’s situations more wisely at the time. Note: Some of these tips are from lessons gleaned from single-parenting the not-so-wise-way!
1. If you must seek a divorce, always get your own attorney; one that will have the well-being of the children first and foremost. My first mistake was to allow my husband to choose his attorney and to accept his offer to let his attorney “work” for me too. Subsequently, I lost all my rights as a potential “primary custodial parent.”
2. Plot your course before you divorce. Know the law. Put into your court documents all of the things that you wish for your children’s best interest now and moving forward. If it’s a promise made by your soon-to-be former spouse, that he will pay for college, medical and dental, then put it in writing. Verbal agreements do not hold up in court. Everything must be documented, notarized and reviewed by your own personal attorney in regard to visitation, etc. Be very specific on custody arrangements in your documents. Don’t leave generous offers to “have all the time you want with the kids” up to a verbal agreement. If that is the choice between both parents, get it in writing!
3. If you have young children who will need supervision while you (both) work, make sure you find the best childcare resources for them. They may be spending 8-10 hours a day without your tutelage, nurturing and caregiving. Make sure you put in your divorce papers who will pay for this expert childcare or if you will be splitting the expenses. This was something I did not address prior to the signing of our court decree, and I was not able, on my own, to continue paying for all of the childcare expenses on my own minimum wage income. (Aunt Susie or Grandma Gertrude or Girlfriend Greta aren’t necessarily the choice for childcare even though they may offer to do it for free).
4. “Count the Cost” of the divorce before you jump. In other words, “Look before you leap!” Seek out professional counseling before divorcing. Seek help from every angle including your clergy. Clergy will typically encourage you to work together as a couple to make things better before you ever begin considering a divorce as your only option.
5. Encourage your spouse to work with you to do all you both can do to provide a safe haven for your child (children) with two loving parents who set the example of love, respect, harmony, forgiveness, gratitude, mercy and kindness in their respective homes. Try to keep a loving, nurturing atmosphere in both homes where the child will be residing and visiting for his needs of security, safety and shelter.
6. If you must divorce, vow to not let your “irreconcilable differences” keep you from making amends, if at all possible. If two people have tried to do all within their power to make a relationship work and it’s still not working (after a lot of hard work), agree to disagree and be united as a set of “mutual parents” who love their children and work maturely and responsibly when it comes to jointly raising your children.
7. “Moving Your Happily-Ever-After-Back-And-Forth” isn’t fun for any child! Visitation is not an easy chore for children. Living out of suitcases, going back and forth, forgetting one shoe at Mom’s house, attending two different churches, having two separate sets of friends (one set at mom’s house and one set at dad’s house) is not easy. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Try not to disrupt your children’s lives. If they are taking music lessons or playing sports, they need a visitation schedule that doesn’t interrupt this. Try to keep things as “normal” as possible for your children. Arrange your schedules so that they can continue to cultivate their talents.