The hardest part of the process is seeing the impact that this separation has had on the children. If we were to talk about regrets, it would be regarding how I managed my daughters during this separation. It’s not easy, but we can limit the damage in order to preserve the mental and emotional health of the children.

I fought tooth and nail to spare them painful emotions such as sadness, confusion, fear of abandonment, guilt, false ideas, anger, feelings of loyalty conflict, worry, and bitterness… through communication. I talk a lot with my daughters. Communicating with my daughters, listening to their sorrows and worries, has been a lifesaving strategy. I never cease to tell them and show them how much I love them and how precious they are to me.

Listening to them has allowed me to know them better and understand them. Of the two, the youngest is the most sensitive. My eldest daughter had already been separated from her biological father when, at two and a half years old, I decided to leave that relationship. She saw him again at eight, when we reconnected.

During all that time, she called my ex-husband “Dad” and still does to this day. In my previous marriage, you would never have known that Jean-Paul was not her biological father, so much had he adopted her. With the youngest, she was roughly the same age when I began divorce proceedings.

However, whenever my ex spent time with his daughter, he would fill her head with unhealthy ideas: “Mom isn’t with dad anymore because she did this… did that…” “I don’t live with you anymore because Mom did this or that…”.

Imagine a child of 3-5 years old being bombarded with such ideas.

Several times, to make me feel guilty, when he had the little one for a weekend, he would call me and hand the phone to his daughter who was crying bitterly: “Mom, why isn’t dad with us anymore?” “Mom, why can’t I live with both of you?” While I, on the other hand, showered her with sweet words and love, praying and declaring in tongues that no negative words uttered by her father would have an impact on her. I never understood why he behaved like this. Hurting me through his own innocent child. Perhaps, at the time, he still hoped that I would get back together with him!

At no time did I accuse my ex-husband in front of his daughter. For a daughter, the father is the number one love, and there is no point in destroying that paradigm in the child’s mind. I suffered too much from my mother’s degrading words about my father to repeat the same mistakes.

At specific moments in my life, I wished I had my father by my side, but it was impossible. Instead, I constantly reassure my daughter that dad loves her and that even though we don’t all live together, she is our baby and we love her very much. The fight continues to this day, calmly, with communication, and with a lot of gentleness, to minimize the damage as much as possible.

At six years old, she flat out refused to go to her father’s for a weekend without her older sister, simply because she felt the difference between being with me and being with her father in an environment where toxic ideas were instilled about me. At her father’s, she also listened to adult conversations: between her father, my ex-mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. Not everything said is necessarily “good” for a child’s ears.

Another of my strategies: spending quality time with my children. I don’t always manage it, given my numerous professional commitments, but when it’s their time, I commit to being with them 100%. I go out without my PC, and my phone is on airplane mode. I have often noticed a fact with my youngest daughter: a beginning of loyalty conflict. Loyalty is a preferential attachment to someone to whom one reserves a priority of consideration.

“Loyalty conflict” applies to a situation in which a person is caught between two competing objects of loyalty. This is observed in cases where the child is caught between the desires of their parents, forced to choose one parent’s love over the other, especially when mistrust and contempt are mutual.

She often tells me, “I don’t prefer dad, I prefer both of you” or “Don’t think I don’t love you, I love both of you.” To stop this conflict, I reassure her so that she understands that I know my love for her is unwavering and vice versa. I love her; she is my daughter, and nothing and no one can change that fact.

The subject of children in a separation is a very sensitive and delicate one. Each parent retains their place in the child’s life. The father remains the teacher, the director, the professor, the coach, the reference, the psychologist of his child.

We often tend to forget this, and some fathers are unaware of it. No child is born with the software, the innate ability of what makes a valuable and responsible man/woman. The child draws inspiration from their parents, especially from the father.

Little boys need their fathers because they are their first reference. Every boy, particularly in adolescence, becomes “difficult” and not easy to control. He may not listen to his mother, but he will listen to his father! Because he knows that, no matter what, the father remains the authority in the family. A boy needs his father to become a man. He is his reference, in his way of doing and acting.

Little girls also have their mother as a reference, but the father’s place remains. Dad remains his daughter’s first love. For me, my father is the best of men. A daughter needs her father because without him, she will not have a model through which to choose her man when the time comes. The absence of the father has three consequences on the girl who becomes a young woman:

** Lack of a model: she needs to see how her father lives, manages the household, treats her mother, how dad talks to mom when he is joyful, when he is angry, when she is angry. What does dad do in times of crisis? All these elements give her a channel of references to make her own life choices. Personally, I have never seen my father raise a hand against my mother, even in tense moments. He is my reference. A man cannot raise his hand against me: it does not exist in my paradigm.

** Lack of criteria for choosing a partner: as a young woman, she will not know how to choose a man intelligently. She will not know how a man should treat her. What are the moral, spiritual, mental elements that she must feel to ensure she is on the right path? These elements will be part of the “dad” reference.

** Lack of emotional security: a girl generally needs to secure an emotional feeling. When she has not had a little emotional connection with her father, she will end up seeking it in the street with the first person who comes along. I found in Samuel the love and affection that I lacked as a teenager. He was over 30 years older than me, and I had a ten-year relationship with him.

It is important for both girls and boys to have family references that allow them to manage their lives and households later on. The worst references would be those of friends, school, and television. Even divorced, I have chosen to always prioritize the father-daughter relationship. The emotional and mental health of my daughters matters above all else. They did not ask to be born. They are the first souls that God gave me and that I must take care of.

This text is an excerpt from the book “How I Overcame a Divorce and Took Control of My Life” written by Flore DJINOU.

We invite you to read the following article “50 ERRORS THAT UNDOUBTEDLY LEAD TO DIVORCE“.

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