Are you unhappy in your marriage? Has your relationship become toxic?

Have you done the work to try to save your marriage but it has not gotten any better or has even gotten worse? Are you staying together just for the kids? If this is you, you are probably feeling really stuck, lost and miserable. Thinking about children coping with divorce is very near and dear to me because that was me 8 years ago.

I had done everything I could possibly do to save my marriage. Lots of counselling, read all the books on saving your marriage, but even with all of that my marriage was still very unhealthy for me. Yet I was staying for my daughter. I thought I could not raise her on my own and that staying together was better than the alternative.

At that time, I did not know how wrong I was. Shortly after separating, I went to a retreat about healing your childhood traumas. At that retreat one of the counselors told me to ask myself, “Is this healthy for me and my daughter? If the answer is no, why are you doing it?” This question blew my mind. I had been trying to save my marriage for my daughter but in the process was living in a very unhealthy for me environment which in turn was also not healthy for her. So I began a journey of creating a life that was healthy for me.

How do you start creating a life that is healthy for you and your children?

From my experience the happier and more balanced you are the happier and more balanced your kids become.  I have been an elementary school teacher for over 15 years so not only have I experienced going through divorce in my personal life but I have also watched and supported it over and over through the children I teach. Initially, when parents decide to separate children struggle. However, this is also the time where the parents are struggling the most as well. Once the parents start to settle down, become more balanced, mindful and accepting of their new circumstances the children begin to balance out as well. Kids deal with divorce surprisingly well when home life is calm.

toddler jumping on couch

Your kids can deal with divorce positively.  We set the stage for their success.

We have no control over what other people do or say or what happens outside of ourselves.

The only thing we have control over is how we react and how we choose to think. You have the choice to view your divorce as a positive or a negative. As I began to heal my life through counselling, reading and learning mindfulness techniques. I began to approach my situation in a more positive light. Instead of viewing my divorce from a victims standpoint, I began to ask myself, “what can I learn from this situation and how can I in turn become a better person and support others.” This became my motto.

A few years after my divorce I started writing, illustrating and self publishing children’s books on mindfulness.

I was talking about my books with one of my student teachers. She had mentioned that it wasn’t until she started working in schools that she noticed how many students come from divorced or separated homes. That is when she suggested that my next book should be to help children whose parents are going through a divorce or separation. That is when I wrote, “Divorce is a D-word! Sometimes Two Separate Homes are Better than One.” The focus of the book and of my work is to help kids deal with divorce and to help people change their mindset. When going through a divorce with children it is so important for them to know that they are loved and supported and that the reason for your separation has nothing to do with them. You are both trying to become versions of yourselves and the most positive path to achieve that is by separating. Kids deal with divorce every day.  We can support them by normalizing their situation and helping them to feel their best.

Whenever my daughter asks about why I got divorced I always tell her because it was not a healthy environment for me to be living in and I wanted to model a healthy happy home. You can model a healthy happy home independently. From my experience so many people do not truly believe this is possible. Let me tell you it absolutely is. You may even be lucky and both parents will do the work they need to do on themselves, so you both can model two healthy happy homes. This is a much more positive situation to be modelling than continuing to drag out an unhealthy toxic relationship under one roof just for the sake of the kids. Your kids can deal with divorce positively. You can only do better once you know better and I truly believe that everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge they have.

If you have done the work to try to save your marriage and you are still living in an unhealthy toxic environment, do not stay for the kids.

This is not healthy for you or for them. The best thing you can do for your kids is to learn to love yourself and learn to mindfully build a loving and nurturing environment for them. Children are little reflections of the adults around them. They watch what you are doing even when you are unaware they are watching. They pick up on your feelings and energy even when you are doing your very best to hide your emotions. When you can truly sit in a space that is a loving home, whether as a single parent or as a family, this is what is truly best for your children.

Each day is a new beginning, a chance to become a better you and a chance to become a better parent for your children. We can only do better when we know better and the healthier and more balanced you are as a parent, the healthier, more balanced your children will be.

woman in flower dress

Amanda Marie Cottrell, B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.

An educator of young children for over 15 years, Amanda’s passion is education and creativity. She believes that everyone has creative capacities. Her mission is to empower people through their unique creative gifts. Helping people believe in themselves through connection, is the aim of her books. Amanda began writing Children’s Books to enhance the written curriculum and the unwritten curriculum in elementary school. She currently writes for Brainz Magazine and Divine Boss Magazine on Mindfulness and Empowerment

Each day is a new beginning, a chance to become a better you and a chance to become a better parent for your children. We can only do better when we know better and the healthier and more balanced you are as a parent, the healthier, more balanced your children will be.

Believe, Create, Inspire


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DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. 


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