To many divorced parents, it can seem as if society is conspiring to ignore you, if not disapprove of you. Single moms are often depicted as poverty-stricken or welfare-dependent. Single dads get painted as desperate or incompetent. You know better; most divorced parents are ordinary, decent people who are doing their best in the face of long odds.
Things probably got both better and worse after your divorce. You got relief from the grinding problems that were making you so miserable, but every major change brings new difficulties. You may get more time with your kids, but now you have to navigate the awkwardness or hostility that many kids display after their parents break up. You'll never have to spend the holidays with your parents-in-law, but the holidays will also never be the same as before.
Co-parenting with an ex-spouse can be really hard. When Ken and Wanda Bass divorced after 15 years, for example, they weren't even able to communicate. When they did talk, they'd usually fight. Wanda, a nurse, knew they needed to be able to cooperate reasonably if their two sons were going to grow up in a positive, loving environment.
Wanda knew they needed to turn a new page. She went to buy a greeting card in an effort to reestablish communication in a positive way, but she couldn't find anything appropriate.
Meanwhile, Ken was trying to do the same thing. When Mother's Day came around, he thought he'd send a card -- but all the cards assumed "mother" always meant "wife."
Each was stung by the greeting card companies' assumption that no such cards would be needed after a divorce. When they realized they were experiencing the same problem, they got started on a new, "incredibly positive" partnership. Together, they founded a company called Xcards.
The fledgling greeting card company fills the niche the divorced couple discovered: cards that support families with divorced parents and help them mend their relationships -- at least a little bit.
"It's not about us," reads one of their cards. "We have something between us that's more important than the way we're feeling toward each other: our children."
Not every divorcee would be able to start a company with their ex, of course, but Wanda and Ken's example is admirable.
"Attitude really is everything," Wanda says. The amount of time spent fighting as parents is counterproductive. Instead, try engaging."