By guest author, Lisa Hall
When we are dealing with an unhappy marriage and trying to sort things out we want to believe that if we are happy, our kids will also be happy. We are sure the marriage has not been a good role model for them and we want to believe that by ending the marriage we will be able to provide a healthier atmosphere for them. What we may not know is that how we deal with separation and divorce has the largest impact on how our children will deal with separation and divorce.
I would challenge the belief that “If I am happy, my kids will be happy.” Few kids are happy that their parents are splitting up. They may feel some relief, but in most situations, children want parents to be together and to remain a family. Even if you are happy when you are separated or divorced, don’t expect your kids to be. It puts them in an awkward position and does not allow them to express themselves to you. They feel that they need to be happy for you and that to show their true feelings will add to the emotional overload they know you are already experiencing.
It may be helpful to take this approach: “If I am a grounded, clear, and healthy person, I will be best suited to help my kids through this divorce.”
Feel the difference? The fact is kids of divorce are always missing someone. They are struggling to feel complete. They are never able to be with BOTH of their parents at the same time, and even on the rare occasion when they are, it is often a tense and uncomfortable situation. When they are with Mom, they long for Dad and feel that emptiness, and as soon as they are with Dad they long for Mom and feel that emptiness. They are always missing the other parent. That nagging feeling of always missing someone or something…especially their most beloveds – the other parent — is why they so love the times that their parents are together. It’s more than just wanting their parents to be married; it’s a matter of their own sense of completeness.
When you, the parent, are consumed by your own emotions – and especially if you are not a child of divorce yourself – these feelings in your child will likely be very difficult for you to get your head and your heart around. Just being aware of this information is a huge step in beginning to understand your child’s experience.
I encourage you to seek outside help to learn about the affects of divorce on your children and how you can be in a grounded and healthy place so that you can help them get through this transition and times to come. You are core to your child’s adjustment and well-being.