Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Surviving the Storm - The Impact on Kids of Divorce

I absolutely loathe divorce. The word itself makes me cringe and a knot of extreme anxiety develops in my stomach. I'm sure you're saying to yourself "Um, hello?? YOU'RE divorced!" Exactly why I have those feelings of complete angst. I lived it and it sucked. As a matter of fact, I am still living it in a sense. Just because papers are signed and life moves on, doesn't mean that cloud doesn't hover, especially if you have kids. Most days are mostly sunny and I am thankful, but for a while I lived every week with a good chance of thunderstorms.

Our divorce was a decision made by 2 people, but this decision affected 6. Unfortunately for the kids, they didn't get a say. It wasn't a democracy. They were told that this change was happening in their lives, not asked if they were OK with it. We did everything in our power to reassure them that our love for them would never change and it didn't. But everything else did. With one decision by their parents, my kids were dealing with hurricane force winds as their worlds were turned upside down. I have a lot of guilt as a result. I don't regret the decision to divorce, but I look back and wish I had handled situations differently. My kids deserve the best of me and divorce sometimes brought out the worst. Thankfully for all involved, our hurricane was a small Category 1 in comparison to many, but a storm nonetheless, and one that scarred my kids. And, to this day, they are still caught in an occasional rainstorm, even though the forecast is mostly sunny: 

"Are we spending Christmas morning with Mom or Dad this year?"

"I left my uniform at Dad's again. And my planner. And my lunchbox."

"Mom said she paid last time. Dad said he paid last time. Now what?"

"Whose night is it?"


They have unnecessary pressures as a result of being kids of divorced parents. Even in the best of situations, those pressures are there, because their worlds are now split. By the grace of God, my boys have done extremely well. We kept our promise to love them beyond measure. In addition, they have a solid sense of home in both places with loving stepparents and siblings. Life is good, but it took weathering and cleaning up after the destruction of Hurricane Divorce to get to that point. 

Thankfully after every storm, the sun eventually shines. 

When I hear stories from people who are divorcing with kids, I cringe, because I know the tumulchuous forecast ahead of them. Kids deserve the best of both parents even in the stormiest of situations. As parents, be cognizant, be mindful, and do absolutely everything in your power to shelter them from the storm between parents. Even after the dust settles, it is up to you, as a Mom and Dad to mitigate the unnecessary pressure your kids will put on themselves. Never assume that they are fine. Talk to them. Don't let them internalize it all and take on a storm of their own. Keep their days mostly sunny.