My daughter and her puppy, Leo

What I Want My Kids to Know About Our Divorce 12 Years Later

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I want my kids to know that I fought for them. I want them to know that the divorce was not my idea. I want them to know that in spite of the bad sportsmanship of their mom, I have always worked hard to maintain a positive relationship with each of them. I want my kids to know that I did the absolute best that I could. And, I want them to know, that I still am doing the best I can.

Divorce Hurts Everyone

My wife didn’t get off scot-free. She did get the divorce she asked for. We negotiated from the opening “I’ve been to see a lawyer” moment as if we agreed to collaborate fairly on the divorce. For the benefit of our children, we kept most of our bullshit and strife to ourselves. And I’m not sure my ex-wife didn’t suffer the catastrophic guilt of being the dumper. And perhaps, that rage continues to fuel her vindictiveness today. I don’t know.

Divorce is a motherfucker. Perhaps, I was the most emotional person in the family. Divorce tried to kill me a number of times. Or, more honestly, my major depression triggered by the loss of my identity and most of my time with my kids, nearly caused me to check out of this role and life. I’m very glad I didn’t.

My kids were aware of my struggles with depression. I think our open discussions of moods and euphoria have been helpful in their growth and understanding of their own tendencies toward emotional reactiveness.

I Will Never Give Up On Them

As we grow and develop as adults our time becomes more and more valuable. I want to spend as much time as possible with my two kids. I want them to know I love them and support their growth and success.

“Time with you is priceless,” I tell them. And, I mean it.

As the marriage became unstable I did my part to pick up the pieces. I got us into couples therapy for the second time. I was fighting to keep the marriage.

My wife was struggling with her own demons. What job would make her happy? (If she had to go back to work.) What more could her husband do to make things easier for her and the kids?  Ultimately, she decided that her best life would be lived with a lot less of me in it. She made that decision for my two kids as well. Again, I’m assuming that her pain was deep and potent, but I’m also certain that rage lasting days and weeks is a result of unresolved emotional trauma. Maybe it was me and my actions she was mad at 24/7 for the last year of our marriage, but I don’t think that explains why she’s still rageful.

As we move forward, I hope my ex will continue to heal and give her children less *bs* about me and about the divorce. I will continue to do my part.

What I Can Finally Say

It was not my decision that changed our lives forever. It was me that fought to keep our family together. And the information you’ve been given since the divorce is most definitely skewed by the pain of the informant, me included.

I am here for you. My role, as a supporter in your life, is a priority for me. I will do whatever I can to support and love you where ever you go. I am here. I am your dad. And I love you just as much now as I did the moment I helped you out of your mom’s body.

The best of our lives together is ahead of us.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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*image: my daughter and her puppy, Leo

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