Divorce. A traumatic experience for both parents and children.
Husband and wife are divorced from each other and go their separate ways.But what about their child? They cannot get divorced from him. In most cases there is a bitter battle, (with a lot of dirty linen washed in public) about who gets custody of the child. Allegations about each parent’s parenting skills are hurled. And sometimes the child is asked who he wants to live with. What can he answer? They are both his parent’s after all. Or, the court decides who he should live with.
Either way the damage is done.
The child’s world has fallen apart.
Often, in a bad marriage the worst affected is the child or the children. Just before the divorce he would have heard his parents fight and wondered whether he was to blame. He would have probably witnessed violence and suffered in silence. After the divorce, it’s a completely different life for him. What is his position now? If mother and father are no longer family, where does that leave him? Does he have no family? Or is he part of an incomplete family? He probably has to spend the weekdays with one parent and weekends with another. And if either one or both parents get into new relationships, he has to suffer watching his beloved parents with different mates. Obviously all this will have an indelible impact on him, and affect the way he acts and responds to situations in his life. Let us consider some long term effects on the children of divorced couples.
- He will think he is to blame. At the back of his mind, will always be the thought that he did not help them be together.
- Her parents do not love her. That is why they separated and fought over her. And if she was unfortunate enough to hear talk about how much money is needed to educate her, and who is going to pay for it, etc, she’ll really hate herself, and her parents.
- He becomes aggressive. He gets angry easily. He breaks things. And gets into verbal arguments with everybody in school.
- She retreats into a shell. Nobody loves me. Nobody will be my friend.
- She becomes anxious and is frightened of anybody who talks loudly. She’ll probably close her ears and run and hide somewhere crying.
- He becomes a bully.
- She gets nightmares and gets up crying and screaming. Don’t go! Don’t leave me!
- If she is living with the parent who relocated, she probably has to join a new school and make new friends which she hates.
- If there is no car now, he’ll probably blame his parent, and make her feel guilty about not being able to afford a car.
- If his mother has to start working, he’ll probably be left in day care and miss out on all the extra curricular activities she used to take him to. No more swimming, or dance class or the reading club. All because his parents divorced.
- On PTA Day, when all her friends come with their Mom and Dad, there she is with just one parent. Or even if both parents come, they arrive separately, and go separately. Can you imagine how dreadful the child must be feeling?
- And when she is with one parent, she has to hear the other being bad mouthed.
- Worse still she has to tolerate the new aunty in her father’s life or the new uncle in her mother’s life.
- At vacation time all her friends are talking about where they are going and what they are going to do with their mom and dad that summer. And she goes back home and shouts at her mom “All because of you!” You fought with Papa and he left home. Now we are all alone.”
- He stays with his mom and becomes mamma’s boy. He will do anything for her. She has suffered so much. So, when he gets married, he wants his wife to do everything for mamma. And he takes mamma everywhere they go. And one day his wife divorces him.
Well, when you actually sit down and list out all the negative things that could happen when a marriage breaks up, you wish one can turn back the clock and go to the Once upon a time there lived a happily married couple stage. Anyway, what has happened has happened, and it is up to the parents to ensure that their child or children do not go through the traumatic emotions and feelings listed above.
Whatever the reason for the divorce, the parents should calmly tell the child that he is not to blame. Mom and dad are having a problem and so they have decided to live separately. But they will continue to love and care and support her. They will make sure she continues with her old school and extra curricular activities.
And as responsible individuals they should ensure that life goes on uninterrupted for their child. They should agree not to bad mouth each other. And they should leave aside everything else and be there on PTA day to cheer for their child. And they should arrive and leave together. Perhaps take their child out for lunch or an ice cream.