There is no greater betrayal than the one that occurs when a stay at home mom must go to work because of divorce. The court order rarely tells a mom that she will have to go to work, but realistically there is no way to take care of children and pay for two households on one income. Even if the woman is the one who initiated the divorce, the anger will run deep because for whatever reason the divorce had to happen, in her mind, it had something to do with the man. If the man had an affair which precipitated divorce, he should not expect any forgiveness anytime soon. This is a double betrayal of destroying the family and taking away the mom’s role of being the care giver for the children.
Mom is going to feel many losses and very overwhelmed. I think this gets lost when courts or parenting consultants try to make “fair” decisions. While it may sound fair to make parents split transportation of the children, that split is often only applied to parenting time transportation. Often left out of consideration is how much one parent runs the children around to activities, sports, preschool or friends’ houses. It is a lot of work being a stay at home mom. Stay at home Dads, I am not discounting you. If you have been a stay at home dad, you’ll feel just as betrayed. I am using stay at home moms in this post because there is a greater number of them.
If your ex is enraged at the sight of you and she was a stay at home mom prior to the divorce, you can do some things that will help heal the wounds. First, try to offer to assist more with running the kids around. The stay at home mom did more heavy lifting than you can imagine while you were at work with grown ups. Too many dads think that their parenting time should only be free time to play. That is not being a parent. Parenting takes some heavy lifting by both parents. If you are not willing to help out then do not be a hindrance to her ability to do it.
Consider how much it weighs on her mind that someone else is taking care of the children so that she can earn a living. If the two of you made the decision that she would stay home and take care of the kids, no matter how you want to look at it, to her you screwed that up and reneged on that agreement. Try to help make it easier for her to go to work.
Some ways that you could help would be to help her work part time, or to ease into full time slowly. This can be accomplished by offering to pay as much as you can towards the children’s activities and school expenses. In the early years of divorce, if at all possible, spousal support would be helpful. Even $100-200 per month can help. The more that Mom gets to stay home with the children, the less you’ll pay in daycare anyway. If at all possible, try to schedule your parenting time when she doesn’t work. If work schedules can compliment each other maybe there will be no need for daycare.
I am not saying that the parent who has always been the main breadwinner is not suffering some losses. I know that you will be hurting, too. The main priority should be the children and trying to keep some kind of normalcy for them. If they are used to mommy being home with them, this is going to be an adjustment. You don’t have to think of it as helping your ex as much as you should think of it as helping your children and not disrupting their lives any more than necessary.
To the stay at home mom who feels deeply upset that you can no longer be at home with your children full time, there are some bright sides to all of it. You are setting an example for your children. They will learn how to manage life from seeing how you go about it. If you have a good attitude, they will adjust. You will get to have a sense of independence and the freedom to provide your children and yourself the life you want.
If this is an area you are struggling with, consider divorce coaching. I have been through things like this and can help you figure out how to simplify your life and how to get to where you want to be. The Coparent Coach can help with many issues, even finding the right career. Give me a call if you’d like to know how.