Following a conversation with my stepfather, I starting to think about……..adapting.
How we adapt in life is one of the greatest things that has helped Man evolve. How we adapt as individuals to the adversities life sends us, is a major factor in what defines us and shapes our lives.
The process of separation and divorce is hard to adapt to for all concerned, both partners and children but also the wider family. It is easy to focus on the nuclear family Mum, Dad and children but do we consider the wider picture?
Brothers and sisters lose an in-law overnight, and face the dilemma of supporting their sibling or losing contact with someone who has become a friend. In addition, losing contact with nephews and nieces you have seen grow up from birth and you care and love as family is very hard.
Grandparents have to adapt to changes in their children, going from being independent to becoming dependant again, be that emotionally dependant, financially or even moving back home.
Everything changes and everyone has to adapt, however we often only see how we as individuals adapt, or are forced to adapt. In reality it is that only thing we can control, we have to accept the way others react and cope.
Coping and adapting are not the same. Adapting, in my opinion, comes after acknowledging and accepting the new situation. We then adapt in term of our emotions, thought processes and behaviours. Adapting to new living arrangements and contacts is hard for all. On my journey, I am coping and I have adapted on some level to changes, but only when my divorce is final and financial and contact orders in place, will I stop coping and start to truly adapt as my future live evolves.
I believe, understanding how we cope and adapt is important – it helps us to ‘allow’ ourselves to be emotional and vent anger in a safe environment with friends and then focus on positive actions to move forward.
Understanding how both you and your ex partner copes is also important. Our defence mechanisms are often driven by emotion not logic.
Defence mechanisms include anger, denial and dismissivenes. Those moments when we react by saying “ This can’t be happening ! !” or “ Whatever!” People around you avoid the all important issues to try to placate the situation.
In my opinion my ex wife has withdrawn from talking to me, she seems to have got more controlling and is trying to micro manage aspects of our children’s lives. Her coping involves denial and reconstructing our history to suit her. She has a need to see herself coping better than I am. This means that I have to adapt how I react, short term I have to cope and adapt when in her company. I want to be friendly; however the children being pushed out of the door when I pull up doesn’t allow that. This annoys me because it creates an atmosphere and barriers that my children pick up on. I adapt by ignoring it, not commenting and just embracing the kids, and starting our time together.
Often in separation these adaptations can cause more issues. As individuals we have to become aware that these copings strategies and adaptations are about us and often not about what is in the best interest of the children. Getting frustrated or annoyed about the situation has no effect as I cannot control or change the situation.
These reactions are not uncommon and I would recommend any parents in the process of separation to go on a SPIP course BEFORE you think about mediation. SPIP is a Separated Parents Information Programme on this 4 hour course the cycles of coping and adaptation are discussed and you will realise that your reactions are not uncommon. (Have a look at info on Dad.info for more about this programme)
One thing to remember is adults are like plasticine – we can reshape and adapt but the older we are, the more work it takes, but children are like a liquid they are resilient and adapt without too much fuss. They are able to survive cope and adapt so much better than adults, but these conflicts can shape their young lives too.