Surprisingly, parents are really pretty supportive of one another, at least in most communities i've seen. The only thing is that married moms may not have, well, the true perspective on what being divorced really means in day-to-day life. If the idea of divorce makes others uncomfortable, scared, confused or sick, stereotypes are easy to fall into. But strip away what seems like the right things to say and you may make everyone feel better and more comfortable.
Here are three pieces of advice many divorced moms hear over and over again from married moms. Thanks. But things just don't work that way.
"Just keep double of everything at both houses."
In theory, starting out this way seems perfect. But in the real world, the logistics of mom's house and dad's house mean the kid can wake up at one house and put something on, but at the end of the day go to sleep at the other parent's house and that's where he takes it off. Trust me, one of my sons has three fleece jackets at his dad's house and had to go to school from my house in a t-shirt on a recent chilly morning. And my other son has about thirty pairs of underwear here and has to search for some at his other house.
"It seems like you guys are doing such a great job!"
Don't get me wrong-I, like many other moms, like to hear this reassurance. It helps balance out all the bad thoughts that float through my mind daily about what divorce may do to my kids someday. Will they not be able to trust, have a stable relationship, be happy, go to a good college or stick it out? But, what you may not know is behind the scenes, co-parenting takes a TON of work to seem so seamless. If we really got along that well, we'd still be married!
"You're so lucky you have so much free time when the kids are at their dad's house!"
Trust me - there ARE perks to having every other weekend "off" - but it's never really ever "off." Many of us are still schlepping to the kids' games, doing endless loads of laundry, catching up on work from our day jobs, and running to the dry cleaners, grocery, sports shop and every other thing that comes with being a parent. When we are "relaxing," it's never 100 percent. We're also worrying if the kids are eating enough, warm enough, sleeping enough, doing enough homework, thinking of us and tons more. How was their dinner, how was their day, how are they feeling about the game they lost, how long did they really brush their teeth before bed (if at all)? Parenting, love and worry are not an every-other-weekend job.
So, the next time you want to give a shout out to a divorced mom, offer support, or reassure her everything is going to be alright - simply do this: Be social. The simplest, most sure-fire thing to do is not offer her the thoughts above, but just ask her if she'd like to go for cocktails or coffee - and chat about anything else.