I questioned myself before I touched on this subject of Divorce. But I have been there and there are probably a lot of issues I could touch on here. The most important one is for the children involved.
So you’ve just made one of the hardest decisions of your life: you’re going to get a divorce. It’s always something that comes as a shock, even to the people involved, and is a huge emotional strain, especially after months of trying to fix the marriage. There’s no doubt that you’re going to be overwhelmed both with the emotional aspect of the separation and with sorting out the legal aspects.
Divorce is so hard for everyone but it especially puts a big hole in the lives of children, especially if one parent goes away and never has contact. So I direct my comments here for children. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying it is not hard for the parents as well. But Instead of blaming the other parent, we as parents need to focus on the future. “You have to take responsibility for yourself and what we can do moving forward, no matter what.”
For obvious reasons, children see divorce as something very traumatic. They are often concerned with their own security, not always with their parent’s happiness.
Children will question:
What if they both leave me?
What is it that I did wrong?
Did I cause the divorce?
Now what’s going to happen to me?
Let’s go over some Children and Divorce Statistics……..
Half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.
Among the millions of children who have seen their parents divorce, one of every 10 will also live through three or more parental marriage breakups.
Forty percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers.
Of all children born to married parents this year, fifty percent will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach their 18th birthday.
What about the children? How do you tell the children that mom and dad will no longer be living together in the same house?
Children are the innocent victims of divorce. They become the center of battles over child custody, support, and visitation. Worst of all, the lines are drawn between the two people they love the most – Mom and Dad.
Divorce affects a child in ways that parents don’t always consider. They face losing the only lifestyle that they’ve ever known. In it’s place are week-end visits with Dad, living with a stressed out Mom, and having reduced resources for everything they used to do. You can’t change this fact, but you can give your children unconditional love and support to help ease their adjustments.
Telling your parents and in-laws about a pending divorce is one thing. It can be a piece of cake – only because they’re adults and are aware of how unstable unions are these days. But telling the children requires a lot more work. Some of that work can be excruciatingly painful.
Children’s feelings are fragile. Children have fears – two that stand out are the fear of no longer being loved by their parents and that they were responsible for the break-up, and the second fear is a lost sense of security.
When it comes to telling your kids about your divorce, many parents freeze up. Make the conversation a little easier on both yourself and your children by preparing significantly before you sit down to talk.
Through the Eyes Of A Child
My daddy went away.
He swore he’d always love me,
But he said he couldn’t stay.
Days turned into weeks
And weeks turned into years.
I never saw my father,
He never saw my tears.
He never read me bedtime stories
Or tucked me in at night.
He never showed up for my birthdays,
But I always hoped he might.
He missed my first day of kindergarten
And all of my school plays.
He doesn’t know how smart I am,
My report cards full of A’s.
Sometimes I want to call him
To say Hey Dad I’m still alive!
I’ll be 16 years old soon,
Will you teach me how to drive?
It’s almost time for college,
The years go by so fast.
I’m looking forward to my future,
But I’m still trapped within my past.
I guess I’ll never understand,
Did I do something bad?
My parents got divorced,
But why did I lose my dad?
What I need from my mom and dad: A child’s list of wants
- I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
- Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
- I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
- Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
- When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
- Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problems.
The general question of differences between children in different types of families is less important than what causes these differences. Let’s look at what we know about what causes these differences. One way to think about this is to consider the risks that may cause difficulties for children. These are:
- PARENTAL LOSS— divorce often results in the loss of contact with one parent and with this loss children also lose the knowledge, skills and resources (emotional, financial, etc.) of that parent.
- ECONOMIC LOSS— another result of divorce is that children living in single parent families are less likely to have as many economic resources as children living in intact families.
- MORE LIFE STRESS— divorce often results in many changes in children‘s living situations such as changing schools, child care, homes, etc. Children often also have to make adjustments to changes in relationships with friends and extended family members. These changes create a more stressful environment for children.
- POOR PARENTAL ADJUSTMENT— generally how children fare in families is due in part to the mental health of the parents, this is likely to be true for children in divorced families as well.
- LACK OF PARENTAL COMPETENCE— much of what happens to children in general is related to the skill of parents in helping them develop. The competence of parents following divorce is likely to have considerable influence on how the children are doing.
- EXPOSURE TO CONFLICT BETWEEN PARENTS— conflict is frequently part of families and may be especially common in families that have undergone divorce. The degree to which children are exposed to conflict may have substantial effects on children‘s well-being.
Current evidence suggests that the loss of contact with parents, economic difficulties, stress, parental adjustment and competence, and inter-parental conflict all contribute at least to some degree to the difficulties of children. Some new findings shift our attention from major problems to milder but important long-term painful memories and feelings of helplessness. These feelings can continue well into young adulthood which reminds us that there are many things we can do to help children.
Take a look at A Memo From A Child To A Parent……..remember you both have to be responsible raising these children.
Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for, I’m only testing you.Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it, it makes me feel secure.
Don’t make me feel smaller then I am. It only makes me behave stupidly “big”
Don’t correct me in front of people, if you can help it. I`ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.
Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.
Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.
Don’t be too upset when I say “I hate you”. Sometimes it isn’t you I hate but your power over me.
Don`t take too much notice of my ailments. Sometimes they get me attention I don’t need.
Don`t nag. If you do, I shall have to protect myself by being deaf.
Don`t forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I should like. That’s why I am not always accurate.
Don`t put me off when I ask questions. If you do you’ll find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.
Don`t be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.
Don`t ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that your neither.
Don`t ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me surprisingly warm towards you.
Don`t forget I love experimenting. I couldn’t get along without it, so please put up with it.
Don`t forget how quickly I am growing up. It must be difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please try to.
Don`t forget that I don’t thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I don’t need to tell you that do I?
Please keep yourself fit and healthy. I need you
Try to make the least amount of changes within the first year as possible. Staying in the same schools and the same house will offer comfort. Try to keep family members of both parents in the lives of your children if they are close. And try to be present as often as possible for your child. You may be divorcing your spouse, but you never divorce your children. Children need many more hugs and more attention during and after the divorce process to continually reassure them. Parents may also realize that hugs from their children might be just what they need, too.
Parents must be open and accepting to the fact that they and their children are still a family, even if there is not a biological mother and father under one roof after divorce.
Our child’s life can either be a happy one, full of experiences that will help them and you grow from the ordeal of divorce. Or, it can be something far less positive if you insist on making your life (and theirs) a constant struggle. Parents need to heal their hearts, and sometimes that takes feeling sorry for yourself and crying the whole time your children are with the other parent. Once you get past that grieving phase, however, you need to pick yourself up, lick your wounds and make the best of whatever situation you are left with.
As far as divorce and children are concerned, the most important thing that you can do is to always show your love for them, and truly care about what affects them. Let them know that they count, and that you will always be there to listen to their problems. Good Luck! You and your children will survive the divorce if you work at it.
And last before you say I want a divorce, you need to really think through what you are doing. Many times in marriage, difficulties arise on a daily basis leading to what seems like a never ending problem. Many husbands and wives would rather call it quit then try and figure out what the problem is.
No matter how badly a person wants a divorce, there are usually feelings of remorse about the failed relationship – especially in cases where couples have been married for many years.
Looking at photographs of memorable occasions and wonderful vacations together, rereading once-cherished love letters, glancing at sentimental memorabilia, all arouse feelings of sadness and loss.
Frequently, people in the throes of divorcing are too angry and antagonistic to acknowledge these emotions, which lay dormant until the divorce proceedings have ended and the dust has settled. Then even the most zealous divorce seekers often report a sense of failure and personal loss.
Even when the decision to divorce is firm, there is no escaping the sadness. So, if you’re someone who is thinking about divorce, think twice. No, actually think again and again and again. Solutions to your seemingly unsolvable problems might lie right under your nose.
This poem expresses the sadness of marriage as it ends….looking back on the happiness that once was.
Last Walk Down Memory Lane
I can’t forget the vow I made to love you all my life…
Our last walk down memory lane fills my eyes with tears
As I find us walking hand in hand in our high school years.
I pass through our college life in search of our “Wedding Day”
The happiness and love we felt makes me want to stay…
But up ahead I know the best of us is yet to be
As I see you and our babies waiting there for me.
I hold you all in my arms as our babies start to grow
I feel the future calling me…but I don’t want to go.
The road of our life together is ending here today
Going in different directions, with nothing left to say.
The last walk down memory lane finds us crying and alone
With nothing left but memories of our family and our home.
If you had done everything possible to try and make your marriage work and it still is not, then you should call it quits. Sometimes, two people are not meant to be together and that is okay. It is in the best interest of everyone if some couples split up and go separate ways. Just make sure you do everything possible before splitting up.
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