Jul 18, 2022
Through a Child’s Eyes – Part 4: Post Divorce
This is Part IV of Through a Child’s Eyes. 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). The first part addressed two simple questions: How did you feel when you first found out your parents were divorcing, and how should parents tell their children they are getting divorced? Part II addressed questions relating to what happened next and the feelings that followed along with ways in which the “child” learned to cope with the newly added stress.
Christine Lombardo-Zaun, Esq., an attorney-mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, continues her series about divorce though a child’s eyes and examines stresses of the child/young adult now that the divorce is final legally.
I know divorce is very hard on the parents. They have adult responsibilities such as having to work, pay bills, take care of their children (regardless of their age), and keep it all together while divorcing. It is not easy, and it is understandable that those parents will become emotionally hijacked, overwhelmed, and will say and do things they do not mean. All parents who have divorced should read this, even if it is to pick out one good piece of advice.
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 two questions relating to some of the most damaging things that happened to the child, and now that the divorce is final legally, what are the stresses of the child/young adult. For some people, they think that once the divorce decree arrives, that the skies will clear up and they will be able to start over. This is not the case for the children, who are still left with some collateral damage of that divorce.
Q: What stresses you out now that your parents’ divorce is final?
A: Having to go to two different locations on holidays can be stressful, but for me, we are working toward getting into a new routine, so it is getting easier. At first, it was horrible, only because my parents did not want to share holidays. I also have some insecurity issues. I sometimes feel as though I have no control over things. Some days I want to decide what I want to do for each holiday, but then there are times when I want them to tell me what they want so I have some structure. As I am getting older, I am realizing that some of this stress is simply the stress of separating from child to adult. This transition is difficult on its own and so adding a divorce, makes this process worse.
As a young adult I am also trying to be financially independent. When their divorce started, I just wanted to be as far away from both of them as possible. I was so angry they were fighting. The problem was that I was totally financially dependent on them. I was a student athlete so I could not work during school. The money I earned during breaks and summers was not even close to paying for my living expenses. Having to be completely dependent on two people who were acting like children was extremely stressful. I almost felt like I was being fake just to get the money I needed from my parents. There was one time where my one parent “cut me off” because I spent time with the other parent. [This is financial abuse and should never be done to a child – whatever their age is].
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.
Next month we will continue this series with Part 5 and how these young adults dealt with the parents who started dating.
Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation