Finally moving on - BUT how do I prioritize what's next..
August 4, 2013 8:44 PM   Subscribe

So finally, I decided to take the bold step and move on to a bigger and brighter future (Hopefully, anyway!). I decided to divorce, on the grounds that I deserve better.

BUT what next? Can someone please help me put my priorities into perspective? Things like daughter's daycare, our health insurance, research on good schools etc. are a fair bet. Things like how to avoid same mistakes I repeated in the past are also a fair bet. Taking care of my heath and body is also a fair bet (am trying to get back in shape and be healthy again - back to my ideal weight, but need to build stamina).

Also, the one thing I am really worried about is being a good parent to my kid - what should I do and avoid? I understand that this is an open ended question, but it would be nice to get some perspective.

Thanks all!
posted by Spice_and_Ice to Human Relations (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
With all due respect...good for you for getting the hell out of there.

Also, in regard to your last AskMe, did you ever end up getting therapy? I ask because you're probably going to need it given what you've been through (and are currently working through).
posted by Shouraku at 10:16 PM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You say you've decided to divorce your husband, but it's not clear how far along in that process you are. Have you told him? Are you living separately? Will you need to see a lawyer?

The things to work out first are your basic needs: housing, food, job (so you can pay for housing and food), daycare (so you can go to your job). Also looking after your physical and mental health so that you can look after yourself and your daughter. I would suggest that therapy of some kind would be really helpful in terms of working out issues, but I don't know your financial situation and to be honest it's not a priority if it's a choice between eating and seeing a psychologist.

I wouldn't think schools would be a huge priority right now as it will be years before your daughter will start going and you can always move to a different place if you don't start out in the ideal school district. Health insurance probably is a priority if you don't get it through work? (I'm Australian, because of Medicare it wouldn't be so important here.)

Once you get your basic needs met, you can start thinking about other things like getting in better shape, working on relationship/personal issues in therapy, thinking about medium and longer-term goals and how you can achieve them.

I don't have children so will not presume to advise on parenting (I hear that is not the done thing). However I will point out that there are plenty of kids that live with a single parent and do just fine.

Well done for taking the first step!
posted by Athanassiel at 10:17 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I firmly believe a happy mom makes for a happy child. So, congratulations for being brave enough to make a change that will impact your daughter positively!

Have you consulted an attorney or seen a therapist yet?
posted by discopolo at 10:19 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, if you haven't laid down the groundwork yet for separation, then I suggest you do it without catching your husband's attention. Make phone calls looking for a new place to live from a burner phone, let trusted friends know what you're planning, etc.

He may not seem violent, but you never know what someone will do under duress.
posted by discopolo at 10:22 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: One comment deleted; please offer productive, helpful advice.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:18 PM on August 4, 2013

Your first priority must be your daughter. It is far better for a child to be from a broken home than to live in one. It sounds like you have the tools to build a successful life, but need to remind yourself of that fact. A bit of counseling, a good lawyer, and a rebirth of the initiative you have already shown in your life will take you far. Allow family to assist for a while if they will, but preserve your identity and independence. You may face some short term poverty, but recall the aforementioned tools you possess. If he is abusive in any fashion, DTMFA. You and your little one can be fine with some time, and you putting to work the things you already know. I wish you strength, I wish you peace. You will make it.
posted by scottymac at 12:00 AM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: It must be such a relief to have made the decision.

I hope that you can keep the lines of communication open with your Ex so that you can arrange for the needs of your daughter together.

To that end, is he paying child support? How much of a say does he want in day care? Have you sorted out custody?

The most important thing right now is to create a stabile environment for your daughter and to have as much access to both parents as possible.

I think you should use Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as your step-by-step guide to getting it all back together. Once you've got the food and housing together, and you feel safe in your situation, you can start to rebuild your social network.

If you have a faith community, reach out, if you don't, you may want to find one. If you're not of any faith in particular, try a UU church. Fellowship in a non-thretening environment is soothing.

Ask friends and family to step-up and help. Go to dinner to visit with people, take the baby so she can inteact with other folks too.

Therapy, therapy, therapy. Find someone you like and are comfortable with. Discuss all and sundry aspects of your life. This is SO helpful I can't tell you. Just knowing that you can play "who's the asshole" with an impartial third party is priceless.

In interactions with your ex-husband, take the high-road. It's just easier. Don't buy into drama, don't take the bait and give more than you get. This is not about fairness and justice, its about living a life of peace and abundance.

That said, protect your daughters rights, including child support like a hawk. She deserves everything SHE'S entitled to.

Hang in there. I think you're already 100% happier than when you wrote the first post, and it's only getting better.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:19 AM on August 5, 2013

Also, the one thing I am really worried about is being a good parent to my kid - what should I do and avoid?

Biggest mistakes I've seen: Don't bad mouth your ex-H to your daughter. Like, ever. And don't use your daughter as a go-between when you need to communicate something with your ex-H. She's a kid; not a messenger. If you need to give or say something to your ex-H, do so directly.

Also, I don't know if you're dating, but don't start introducing your daughter to every man you go on a date with. Ideally, your kid shouldn't meet any new SO's until you're pretty sure that person will be in the picture for a while.
posted by PsuDab93 at 7:08 AM on August 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Do your best to facilitate a good relationship between your child and her Dad. Accept that he'll parent his way at his home, you'll parent your way at your home. Unless there's meanness or abuse, kids can adapt just fine, just as they adapt to different rules at school. Maintain contact for things like school progress, health, etc. Quoted for emphasis: Don't bad mouth your ex- to your daughter. Like, ever. And don't use your daughter as a go-between.

It's not easy. He may make it extra difficult. Take the long view - what kind of person do you want to raise? Raise your child to respect her Dad. My ex- left when our son was 5. He's an adult now, and really appreciates my keeping my mouth shut, and facilitating his relationship with his Dad - like making sure he made a card and had a gift for his Dad's birthday. The same if Dad re-marries - facilitate a healthy relationship with a stepmom, if possible. Get therapy, and use friends if you need to complain, not your child.

Divorce is innately expensive; you used to share expenses, now you'll have 2 households, so budgeting gets tight. You'll need a lawyer, and I recommend finding somebody smart and not too adversarial; that just churns legal fees. I think you are eligible for COBRA to continue health insurance after divorce; you can just stay on his insurance until the divorce.
posted by theora55 at 7:44 AM on August 5, 2013

I am very happy to hear that, I have been hoping for an update from you.

You deserve better and it is in the best interest of your daughter to grow up seeing her mother treated with respect and kindness. This separation is absolutely about the welfare of your child.

I would contact a lawyer first to make sure you know what your options are in terms of alimony and child support. Once you have that baseline you will be better equipped to evaluate your living/working/family support needs.

Good luck, I am very proud of you for taking this step.
posted by lydhre at 8:48 AM on August 5, 2013

LAWYER. You need a lawyer right away, before you do anything else.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:17 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Good for you! You are being a good role model for your daughter.

I think you might want to prepare for how you will handle your ex-husband bad-mouthing you to your daughter. I'm not sure how this type of thing is best handled, but having a game plan before it happens, is a good idea.
posted by parakeetdog at 11:07 AM on August 5, 2013

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