What About The Children?
Divorce or separation is a rather nasty affair when you’re an adult, but what about the impact on the Children? Parents sometimes get so embroiled in their own emotions and situation, they forget that they are not the only ones going through the divorce or separation. It’s a change for any child that is old enough to be aware of people and its surroundings. How far back to you remember? Some people can remember memories form when they are two. My own parents’ divorce and the divorce of my youngest step-brother, the way the parents acted, the tales told, the attitudes taken toward step-families was my driver to want to become a lawyer, a family lawyer. What I do now couldn’t be further from this, but this sense of drive to look after and speak up for those who may not be able to so it themselves, still motivates my actions today. All I ask of you as a couple going through a divorce or separation or have been through one in the past is to think about the children.
This is a hard time for some children to really understand what is going on; why is their Dad or Mum suddenly gone, why are mum and dad always arguing or why are mum or dad always crying. Who are these new people especially if new ‘parents’ or ‘siblings’ are introduced in quick succession? They will be torn between finding new friends in new brothers and sisters and being told by a parent not to play with these new people in their lives. It’s always hard when your partner goes off with someone else let alone if they have children. Whilst you are going through the emotional transition and thoughts of why, how are they any better than me, he said he didn’t want the responsibility anymore etc. etc., so is your child/children. They too are trying to digest their emotions and the changes going on.
I have seen parents who even twenty years on were unable to be in a room together, this causes the child so much stress. So too does the shouting at one another in public during pick-ups and drop off. Your child is watching everything and may even start to replicate this behaviour, as they see it as acceptable.
A child should not have to listen to how bad the missing parent is, so don’t bad mouth the other parent in front of the child. If your child is of a certain age they may even innocently tell the other child creating further conflict. A child should be left (except in the case of danger to the child) to make up their own mind about its parents. It is not for anyone else to tell someone, even a child what to think or even feel. In addition, do not use the child as a bargaining chip to get the settlement you feel you deserve, this is a human life not an object. The courts are generally fair.
If you can settle amicably outside of court, a child does not need to be dragged through this. Do not belittle a child, teenager or even an adult dependent with what you think they can cope with, you may be amazed how much they actually understand. Spend time with them and listen to them to understand how they feel. Don’t let them bottle it up inside, this may lead to mental health issues later in life, including the inability to communicate how they feel. Animosity towards a parent that is fuelled by another.
I know from talking to friends and children of divorced parents that no age is ever easy, whether your three, sixteen or twenty-three. No matter your age it’s hard to comprehend why your parents, who you love in equal measure are no longer together, to understand the reasoning behind one leaving; no longer in love or have met someone new. As the parent, remember to have compassion towards your child or dependent, to deal with them with patience and loving happiness. You are not the only one going through the divorce or separation, please think about the children.