The Divorce Heritage

Divorce Heritage

What Impact does Your Divorce Have on Your Family Heritage?

As we celebrate our Heritage during the month of September in South Africa, honoring our diverse cultures and the various legacies inherited from past generations, I would like to explore the true extent of heritage for families.

Through the ages, mankind has always endeavoured to preserve its tangible, natural and cultural heritage. Each generation has faced its own challenges with the maintenance and celebration thereof. The rapid rise in divorce over the last fifty odd years, has a profound impact on the heritage of our families and communities.

When we opt for divorce, it is paramount to accept this fact and grasp the full extent of it. Not only does the status quo change within our inner circles, but the impact reaches far outside among the family, friends and communities in which we live and function.

As families, we have a tangible heritage too, such as homes which are our monuments; parks, school grounds and holiday destinations which are our urban landscapes; works of art and artefacts depicting the growth and development of each member; photographs taken on special occasions and story books read by generations.

Don’t burn your wedding photographs

During divorce, we should be careful not to disregard the importance of a family home providing a safe haven and familiar base from which to go out into the world and to return to whenever needed. Similarly, the urban landscapes in which we live our daily lives are an integral part of who we are. Sudden changes to or loss of these monuments and landmarks should receive careful consideration before being imposed on our families.

The arts and crafts created by our family members from their childhood through to their old age, deserve a rightful place in the halls of fame, along with each individual’s achievements, regardless of divorce or new blended families. These are reminders of where we come from and the talents we inherited from our forefathers and should be preserved for future generations to refer to. Photographs record the milestones and special occasions celebrated with loved ones and become a valuable reflection of our timelines. The same goes for the books our grand-parents read to our parents and again to us and so on, which are precious heirlooms.

Imagine the huge sense of loss for adults and children alike, when you no longer live in the family home and don’t have regular access to all those familiar heirlooms, as a result of divorce.

Equally valuable is our natural heritage and the support we show as families to preserve and care for our limited resources. Some would be devastated to leave behind a lovingly cultivated garden and others would mourn the loss of a beloved family pet that cannot be accommodated in a new dwelling after divorce. Not being able to visit favourite nature retreats or participate in regular community initiatives, robs us of the opportunity to find solace in familiar surroundings or make a positive contribution.

The way we behave during divorce has a huge influence on our future intangible heritage. When we disrespect and hurt the people we love, a culture of pain and suffering develops, resulting in bitterness and resentment. When we deceive and betray our partners, dishonesty and distrust becomes customary. When we engage in prolonged and unfair legal battles, conflict and bullying becomes common practice. Similarly, when we actively alienate children and parents, we enable negative values such as selfishness, insecurity and rivalry. Healthy relationships and bonding are no longer valuable and our beliefs in loyalty and honour suffer tremendously.

Are you unknowingly alienating your child from the other parent?

If divorce interferes or brings an end to our inherited traditions and rituals, we get lost and lose our sense of belonging to our tribe. We are left with little or no notion of family values and customs to honour and uphold as defining characteristics in society.

It is vital that we critically evaluate the impact on the future heritage of our divorced and blended families, which we are creating in our daily lives:

Are we crafting cause for future celebration in spite of this divorce heritage or are we setting the stage for mourning loss and shame?

Co Parenting Tips from a Divorced Mother

co parenting tips

Co parenting can be difficult. I like to stress that you should look at co parenting as a “business relationship”. Here are some proven co parenting tips that not only work great, but will help you to have a successful co parenting relationship.

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      • Be flexible – Co Parenting Tips #1

        Being flexible is vital in a co parenting relationship. One example, is if a parent is running late on the drop off day/time.  Kids do not always cooperate. They may decide to go to the bathroom right as you are walking out the door. Kids may forget their favorite stuffed animal, homework or sports bags or pick a fight with a sibling.  Another example of being flexible is when there is a family function with the other parent. If the day ends up on your placement day, try to work with the other parent so the kids can be a part of the family function. Children should not be stopped from spending time with their extended family. Not being flexible can cause gratuitous animosity and put a wrench in any positive co parenting you have already established.

      • Keep open communication -Co Parenting Tips #2

        Another one of my co parenting tips is to keep the lines of communication open. Think about how your communication with the ex will affect the children. Keeping a calm, relaxed and even tone will help assure positive decisions will be made for your children. Co parenting should include sharing your child’s achievements that took place on your placement days. Inform your ex of any doctor appointments the kids had while in your care. Sharing positive performance, concerns and the needs of the kids can take away hostility you may feel towards each other and lighten the mood.  The kids will respect you more and maybe even learn some communication skills of thier own.

      • Do NOT talk badly about the other parent in front of the kids – Co Parenting Tips #3

        It is hard enough for the kids to be in the situation they are in. Do not make it harder by talking badly about their other parent.  The kids view both parents as “role models” and you do not want your kids to have negative thinking towards you for talking bad about the other parent. Talking bad about your ex in front of the kids will have negative lasting affects on your children.

      • Do NOT ask the kids to take sides – Co Parenting Tips #4

        Kids should never choose between you and the other parent. You may be asking the kids to choose sides with out even realizing it. Think before you speak in front of the kids. By saying anything negative about your ex, will make the kids feel like they have to take sides. They love you and the other parent, and do not need or deserve to be put in the middle.  Remember that your kids emotional needs are more important than yours.

      • ALWAYS keep a positive attitude – Co Parenting Tips #5

        Your children have been through a lot. They need their parents to have a positive attitude. This will give them increased self esteem, happiness, better health and motivation to get through the stresses of the divorce.  Remember your kids learn from you, if you always have a positive attitude, your kids will try doing the same.

These five co parenting tips have worked for me and I hope they work for you!