People in their 30’s and 40’s whose parents didn’t divorce are probably amongst the minority in many places in the United States. It is a fact of our life – divorce and the kids who go through it along with their parents. And kids have no choice.
My kids went through divorce; my grandson has two homes and 3 parents; many, many people I know have children who have gone through their divorces with them.
OK parents, we all did the best we could. It’s such a hard thing for we parents who love our kids to know right up front that something we are doing is going to affect our kids for the rest of their lives – even if it is the exact right and necessary thing for us. So this paragraph is for parents. Somehow, someway you need to make a personal commitment to yourself and your children that you will work to work out what you need to work out so that you are a healthier and more aware person and learn whatever there is to learn about this experience so that you have a happier life and create a happier one for your children.
That’s what you need to do for you but what you really want to know is “how does divorce affect my kids?”
Here are the things I’ve noticed:
Kids may have divided loyalties. If they detect any judgment on the part of parent A towards parent B, the child naturally may want to protect parent B and the consequences of this range from becoming highly manipulative to dishonesty and confusion. I am not a therapist but I am a divorced parent and a coach and teacher about emotions and the manifestations of divided loyalties are many and varied and not great.
Kids may have a lack of confidence because they think it’s their fault somehow. When my grandson was 12 he said it felt like it was his fault because his dad and step-mom considered splitting.
They may become fearful about relationships and marriage as adults. Now it really is a good idea to marry when you are old enough to know who you are and know what you want, but I wonder if the apparent prevalence of wariness and commitment phobias come from the dis-ease about relationships ever being able to work out.
Multiple marriages mean multiple parents who affect your kid. Since we are all affected by our parents or parent substitutes, when two people get married more than once, there is a multiplication of effects on the child.
So does all of this mean that our kids are doomed? I think not. I think that if parents face themselves and each other and continue to work out a relationship of forgiveness and love and mutual love for the children a new and imperfect but lovely extended family can occur. We have managed it in our family. Around 25 years ago my children’s father and I got to the point where we could begin to be together with the kids. We continued to celebrate holidays, birthdays or whatever as a big – sometimes challenging family. But as my youngest daughter said when I said I was proud of how my four kids got along with each other, “Mother, it’s not that we always get along. It’s that we always forgive each other.”
She is the child of divorce. Does she sound permanently ruined? Of course not. Humans have issues. One of your kids' issues will be that their parents were divorced. Learn how to do it the very best way you can.
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