“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.”  Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

Doing the right thing in the middle of coping with divorce is not easy. It can be especially difficult if you are trying to teach your children to do right, all the while they are watching their father do countless things wrong.

One of the biggest concerns I hear from women going through a divorce is how to help their children. So how do we teach the right lessons amongst the chaos? Anne Lamott advises, we “just show up and try to do the right thing.” Minute by minute. Day after day.

And the actions we have to take with children (especially when their behavior is taking them down the wrong path) are difficult. It’s hard to be the one making the tough decisions and meting out the punishments.  It’s no fun to set boundaries and then have to exact the penalty when those boundaries are crossed.  Our kids don’t like it.  They think we’re being unreasonable.  Late adolescent or young adult children may go live with their dad.  And that’s part of the problem. It’s even more difficult to set definite and sure boundaries of behavior when others have often crossed moral boundaries with no apparent care or concern.  It’s hard to teach the right lessons when someone your children admired suddenly is doing so many things wrong … breaking promises; having affairs; drinking too much; lying; being deceitful and life seems to be going fine for him, thank you.  And the fact that he is usually in his “Super Dad” costume makes discipline even more difficult.  But hang on.  Hang on and keep on doing the right thing.  The dawn will come. Your kids might be mad for a while; but eventually they will understand how much you love them, and they will admire you for all you have done for them. In years to come, my bet is that they will all be sitting around a holiday table after dinner is finished when all the stories start; and with their children listening, they will ask a sibling,  “Do you remember when mom caught us  (fill in the blank)?“  For one thing, your sure, right response will give them cover as they are disciplining their own children who will learn the lessons, too.  As one preacher in Anne’s book comments,  “Hope is a revolutionary patience.”  So, “Wait and watch and work; don’t give up.”  Or give in.  No matter how much easier it would be to do so.

“It is the same joy as that of a woman in labor when her child is born – her anguish gives place to rapturous joy and the pain is forgotten.  You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and then you will rejoice; and no one can rob you of that joy.”  John 16:21, 22 (The Living Bible)