Aug 16, 2022
Through a Child’s Eyes – Part 5: Changes
Divorce and Children
This is Part V 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). Part III addressed the question, “What were some of the most damaging things that occurred during your parent’s divorce?”, and Part IV asked, “What stresses you out now that your parents are divorced?”. This part will address a very popular topic of dealing with the new partners.
Christine Lombardo-Zaun, Esq., an attorney-mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, continues her series with part five, discussing life changes and advice for other young adults going through this process.
Divorce is 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 only 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 what happened after the learning of their parents’ divorce. 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 left with the damaging effects of that divorce.
Q: What was it like when your parent introduced their new partner?
A: One young adult said it was “weird”. They were seeing their parent with someone else other than their mother or father. Everyone was nice they said, but it was still strange to them. Another young adult said they felt very uncomfortable with the new partner showing affection to their parent. They also stated that this was all new and that they did not know what a healthy relationship should look like. (This new relationship was a healthy one, but the young adult did not recognize it). Another young adult added that although this was a strange new normal, and that they missed their parents being together, they did not miss all the fighting going on in their familial household. All young adults agreed they wanted to see their parents be happy. It was my observation that there was still a lot of judgment going on with these young adults about the new partners, but most of them seemed to realize that these other people were not going to replace their parents.
Q: What advice would you give to other young adults going through this?
A: These young adults were so candid! I feel that this experience was both helpful for me as an attorney-mediator, but also for them to express their feelings. When asked about what advice they would give to others, they all agreed that they have to find a way to be happy for their parents. They said it is OK with not being able to control things they could not control (i.e., the divorce). They said learn to be adaptable. Change is difficult for most people, but these young adults seemed to realize that some change is inevitable. They had many distractions in their own personal lives which helped them adapt to the change in their family. For most of these young adults, their distractions were college, working, and sports – enough to keep them well occupied. Finally, they said it is best not to compare themselves to anyone else. This is critically important given their large reliance on social media. These young adults really worked hard to fight the temptation to fall prey to this. For example, one young adult said that on social media all they could see is happy families and they were upset that they did not have this. It was not necessarily a reality, they said, as most people only post the positives or their best light on social media, however, they admitted that although different now, their “family” is still there.
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