Apr 20, 2022
Through a Child’s Eyes – Part 1 : The Initial Shock
Divorcing as we know, is difficult and can be traumatic. Divorcing while having children adds a level of complexity that no one will know and understand until they live through it (which I do not wish on anyone). Most of the clients I work with are mediation friendly, meaning, they come to the table with a genuine attempt at working together and remaining friendly. Most of these clients have children and they express a desire to help their children transition through the divorce. My observations show that the children in these cases adapt to the changes much more easily than those without mediation friendly parties.
Christine Lombardo-Zaun, Esq., an attorney-mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, starts her series of divorce through a child’s eyes by discussing the initial shock.
I worry most about those children who have parents that choose to fight and make their divorce a battle. Sadly, I have observed these cases and the children, along with their parents, suffer terribly. Why is this? It is my belief that these parents just want to hurt the other parent and cannot look past their own self interests. This can be a dangerous and a very expensive choice. Parents will share how their children are doing when I follow up, but that is their perception of how their child is doing. But how are the children REALLY doing? I decided to go right to the source to find out how divorce has affected or is affecting them: the actual children themselves.
I interviewed a few courageous “children” of parents who divorced. These interviewees are young adults, so the word child in this blog is used generally. In this part I am going to address the initial feelings these adult children had regarding the divorce. In future parts, I will address some other issues that arose in their particular cases.
If you are a parent, and are going through divorce, or are contemplating whether to mediate or divorce, then read this first and hopefully you will not make some of the mistakes the parents in these cases made.
Q: Were you surprised when your parents told you they were getting divorced?
A: I had a feeling my parents were going to divorce a long time ago. I guess I did not want to believe or accept it back then, but deep down, I knew it. I know parents think they should wait it out for their kids but, honestly, they should have not “stayed for the kids”. I think that almost made it worse as I had to watch them “try” and not work. The fights only became worse and the level of contempt and disdain for each other worsened.
Q: How should parents tell their kids they are getting divorced? I have so many ask this question.
A: Well, do not tip one child off, even if the parent thinks they are old enough to handle it. As a young adult, who is in college, I did not feel comfortable knowing that information. Sometimes not knowing so much is a good thing. I would suggest bringing the kids together and sitting down as a family. Explain to them what is happening and further explain that as parents, you have put a lot of thought into this. Then, if age appropriate, ask the kids to share their feelings. Talk with them, not to them.
As a caveat, this is anecdotal advice from young adults who have and are experiencing their parent’s divorce. This does not mean this advice will work for all families. This also comes from young adults, so differing ages of the children might require different strategies. Consult with Alpha Resource Center for more guidance and valuable resources on this delicate topic.
Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation