Parenting through emotional baggage is much the same as swimming through mud. The harder you struggle, the deeper you sink.
While the single parent may face additional challenges, all parents struggling with emotional baggage face many of the same issues. You can play the part of the victim if you like. You can make all the excuses in the world. Even playing the blame game may divert you for a while; however, you have to reconcile the past and make changes for the future before you can truly move on.
Emotional baggage in relationships
In relationships, the deeper you attach to the other person, the more difficult it is to let go. The single mom may fantasize about the way it was before the divorce. The married mom may fantasize about the man she thought she was married to. Either way, children become unwilling victims in the process.
Dealing with emotional baggage
Living in a tunnel of negative emotions can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless. You have difficulty dealing with the current situation you are facing. Some people medicate, some abuse alcohol, and still other immerse themselves in mindless activates to avoid reality. This helps them to avoid facing the reality of the situation that is causing them so much pain. Any aversion or addiction will only make matters worse in the end.
Unfortunately, this does nothing in helping them face reality and make changes. Anyone struggling with parenting through emotional baggage first needs to recognize what it is that is not working for them in the right now. You cannot hide behind substance abuse or false realities without compounding the problem.
Are your kids overly withdrawn, belligerent, disrespectful, or acting out in other negative ways? Someone needs to assume a role of leadership and steer this particular ship back on course. Although that if often easier said than done, it is not an impossible feat.
Despite which partner is at fault, attention must be focused on the children. Kids in general are excellent at assimilating information and processing it in a way that makes them the proverbial bad guy. Whether it is mom and dad screaming at each other or single mom raging at the disappearance of dad, the end damage is the same.
Let go of emotional baggage
If you are floundering, your children will flounder. This is one reason airlines instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask before then assisting your children. In other words, you must take care of yourself first in order that to take care of your children effectively.
Too many excuses prolong the agony and suffering for all involved. No matter which party is at fault, the children should never be used as scapegoats. They should definitely never be casualties in a war between parents.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, do the right thing. Speak up, reach out, and get professional help in order to let go of the emotional baggage. Find a trusted family member, a pastor, or a therapist who can help you navigate your way back to emotional health.
There is no shame in admitting you need help or in asking for help. What is a shame, however, is the damage being done to the children. This long lasting negative experience becomes the emotional baggage your kids will carry into the future.
This is how the cycle perpetuates itself from generation to generation. Be the one to stop this vicious cycle in your family by parenting your kids without emotional baggage. Be the hero in the rest of your story and a write a happy ending for all.