As I watch my friends and cousins go through their parents’ divorces, I can’t help but want to share some thoughts and personal experiences from going through my parents’ divorce. If you are thinking about divorce, are getting divorced or are divorced here are some thoughts.
A little bit of background: I was 17 when my parents told my siblings and I that they were getting divorced. I am the oldest child and so my point-of-view comes from that stand point. I cannot speak for my brother and sister, but I can speak of what I observed them going through. What I say below are personal experiences and things I wish my parents knew.
1) When you tell your child that you and your spouse are separating, they will feel like their world is coming apart at the seams. They will feel betrayed and angry. They will have feelings they may or may not want to talk about. Acknowledge these emotions, let your children feel how they feel.
2) After you tell your children they may not want to be around you. Let your children go to an impartial friend’s or relative’s house. It is important that they have someone who is only focused on them and have no ties to divorce. After my parents told my sister and I, we left and went to our grandmother’s house. In hindsight, this may not have been the best call. She was not impartial, to say the least.
3) Find someone who your child can talk to. Once again let me reiterate…someone who is not taking sides in the divorce is critical. They need someone who is there for them and them only.
4) Let your children’s teachers know. They can be apart of your child’s support system. I remember telling my science teacher before I had told anyone else, she let me share feelings, looked me straight in the eye and said “I am here for you and no one else. I am here just for you and I won’t take sides.” I had amazing teachers that year, they backed me up and supported me through anything. It would have been a much harder year without them.
5) Whatever you do, do not talk bad about your ex-spouse in front of your kids. Remember they still love the other person even if you don’t. They are not your support system, you are theirs. Find a friend or a professional to talk to. Do not say mean things about the other parent in front of the kids. Period.
These are only guidelines, and each child’s needs are completely different. These are just things that I wish I and my parents had known from the start. I only hope my experiences may help you and your children.