My parents divorced when I was just a toddler, my brother barely out of diapers yet. The issues that came about due to my parents divorce had lasting consequences on my brother and I, and I swore that I would not repeat the process with my own children. Unfortunately, my daughter’s father and I separated after seven years of marriage, and not amicably either I might add. I am happy to share the following article for children navigating divorce with my readers from a great attorney from my home state of Pennsylvania. I hope that it will help you and your children if you are in the process of a divorce.
While the divorce process is by no means easy for spouses going through it, it may be much harder for children sitting on the sidelines, watching their parents. No matter what age children are, divorce is a life-altering change for them. They likely have never seen their parents apart and once the finalization of the divorce sets in, it may have more of an impact than anyone could have foreseen.
A Common Story
Your parents divorced when you were 16 years old. Luckily having two older siblings made the process easier at the time. Initially the divorce didn’t really affect your daily life, other than spending time apart from each of your parents. It had little impact on your friends, education, or the fun that you had as a child. However, maybe you became a bit more cynical or received detention more than usual.
After graduating high school, you planned on attending college. You started going through the application process, but became overwhelmed with the applications essays, financial burdens, and soon thereafter, began feeling deeply depressed. As time went on, you began thinking more and more about your parents’ divorce, hoping that they would get back together and once again being able to spend holidays as a cohesive and normal family.
While you were frequently in a state of depression, you managed to tough it out and get into school. Things began looking up again, until you came home for spring break. Returning back to the situation of spending time with one parent and not the other brought you back down; to the point where you took it upon yourself to seek professional help. It was at this point that you realized that, while you love both of your parents and you know they love you, you cannot face the reality of getting older and each of them being alone in your life.
While they are not therapists or psychiatrists, divorce lawyers are experienced in counseling spouses and families alike on the topic of divorce and its impact. Divorces that involve children are rarely simple and parents may have their own goals and agendas with respect to their child’s future.
It may be difficult for children, but try to focus on your parents’ future happiness. Try to understand that your parents may not have truly been happy during the marriage and divorce gives them each a fresh start. In due time, each of them may meet someone new that makes them happy or they may want to live alone. This is only the first step in the process of moving past or accepting your parents’ divorce. Speaking with family counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, or even to other children who have gone through something similar are always an option and often lead to great results.
That being said, getting past your parents’ divorce should not fall completely on your shoulders. Parents should have a duty to ensure that their divorce does not have a lasting impact on their children. While it all depends on the age of the children involved, parents should be truthful with their children during the divorce. Obviously for younger children this should be in terms they can understand and depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce, leaving out exact reasons why the divorce is needed (adultery or violence).
Furthermore, as part of the divorce process and following the finalization of the divorce, parents should always keep the best interest of their children in mind. This means not being spiteful, badmouthing the other parent in front of children, and learning to compromise. Divorce changes people; sometimes there is no way to avoid it. That being said, every family is different and if children are in the mix, there are steps that children and parents alike can take to lessen the long-term effects of a tough divorce.
About the Author
Jason B. Martin, Esquire, is the founder of The Martin Law Firm located in Blue Bell, PA. With over 16 years of experience, he provides a wide range of legal representation including estate planning, criminal, and family law. Among his many accomplishments, Jason also proudly volunteers his time with the local nonprofit For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation.
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