Marriage is hard. Divorce can be even harder — especially when children are involved. While the ending of a spousal relationship may provide some relief from a difficult situation it often comes with its own unique challenges.
Divorce results in a mass of mixed emotions that differ in combination for each family and each person. For the parent who assumes main custody of the kids, typically the mother, divorce tends to put a strain on daily life by completely reconfiguring what once was considered “normal.” The adjustments that come with managing conflicts during divorce can often seem overwhelming.
Moms are so well known for taking care of everyone and not having time for themselves that it has pretty much become a running joke that everyone laughs off, and because of this, they can have difficulty breaking free from the consuming mental health effects of divorce.
Children can significantly complicate a divorce as the mom tries her hardest to reduce its effects on her growing kids, further adding more strain to her own life. Moms are incredibly powerful people but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
A mother holding onto a very common “I can do it on my own” attitude is making every effort at believing in herself, again. These “superheroes” often wear a brave face, march on, and sometimes cry in private because they are so used to doing everything on their own.
Friends can help a divorced mom with children by taking a “present moment” perspective. This mom is now grieving. Helpful tips first need to be very mindful of the person’s personality.
What can you do when a divorced mom with kids never asks for anything or says she doesn’t need anything?
- If she is overwhelmed, joining her with yard duties or housecleaning may be better received than a “Nice work!” comment
- If you notice more frequent declines to social invitations, just sit with her without expectation of conversation or having the right thing to say
- Check-in regularly without expectation because consistency is always a sign of a “good friend”
- Offer only what you can give with love and kindness (e.g., a movie, a casserole, or if you are also a parent, maybe taking the kids out to a football game)
The choice is more about how to be than what to do. Being a supportive friend for this mother calls for non-judgment and acceptance of whatever mood she is in. Emotions pass only when someone is there to hear them without advice.