I’ll be honest, even to this day when I hear of someone getting divorced, I say “I’m sorry to hear that”. Frankly, if someone wants to get a divorce, go ahead, it’s not my business. I often wonder if they’ve tried all they could, done all they needed to in order to keep their marriage alive and well. It’s not my place to ask, but it’s a question I can’t help but wonder the answer to.
As the child of divorced parents I harbor a great deal of resentment towards people who divorce for reasons which are petty. I know and fully understand it’s not my place to judge what constitutes a petty reason for someone else, but I’m being honest and telling you, I do. When I hear “well, he likes to go out and I want to be home” or “she likes to shop and I don’t” I think to myself “Are you freaking kidding me? There has got to be more to this than that!”. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t. When there isn’t, my opinion of the person who initiated the divorce changes significantly, my respect for them basically vanishes. There are very few issues that can’t be resolved with hard work and great communication, a marriage that lacks either isn’t likely to be a very good one.
Perhaps my view on divorce is so negative because of what follows. Living with only one parent, not having the ability to see both whenever you’d like to, for as long as you like to. Parents who try to turn you against the other parent, take their frustrations out on the children. Abusiveness aside, there are some important things to remember. Children are people and we have feelings and yes, your marriage is important to us.
If you choose to divorce, which I understand is sometimes unavoidable, please remember to reassure your children that it is in no way their fault. Seek counseling for them, regardless of your stance on therapy. Do not try to turn them against the other parent or keep them from seeing them as often as possible, unless there is a legitimate reason why! Co-parenting is something that works well once the flames settle, consider it.
Keep in mind that while you may struggle with “your divorce”, your children are suffering more. Not only did they not get a say in any of this, they are likely unaware of all that transpired that brought the marriage to this point to begin with. Being left in the dark isn’t helpful, simply being told “it’s not your fault” isn’t enough. The last thing any good parent wants for their children is for them to blame themselves, to harbor this anger and judgement, to grow up doubting all the positives of marriage, or to settle themselves for a negative marriage.
Do not take this as condoning bad marriages or accepting being unhappy for the sake of avoiding divorce, that’s simply not the case. The point is, if you can work on your marriage and fix it- do it! If not, make sure that the people who should be most important to you are well cared for throughout the process. Make sure your children never doubt the love, support or lifetime commitment of their parents to them. Choose your actions and words carefully and always remember children know more than you think they do, listen when you think they’re not and feel what you think they don’t.
I survived my parents divorce and have a wonderful 2nd Mom because of it, but not everyone is so lucky.