Consider the Children

As you might imagine, your divorce impacts your children, too, and often in unpredictable ways. Like us, each child is an individual, with his or her own psychological, intellectual and emotional makeup and abilities.  The symptoms of the degree to which your divorce impacts your children may be apparent immediately, or may remain hidden inside them for years.  The only certainty is that it will affect them.

We've spoken with some of our consulting psychologists, who have shared with us comments which they have heard from children whose parents are in the midst of a divorce, or who are already divorced. While the specific manner in which you address issues with your child(ren) will be different in each family, we offer these comments from children in the hope that they will help you to think about how your divorce might be affecting them.

(Note:  The answers are reproduced here verbatim and contain language which some may find offensive.)

The question asked of the children was, "What do you hate most about having divorced parents?"

  • Wasting all of my birthday wishes on hoping they would get back together.
     

  • The fact that they didn’t divorce sooner and I had to witness every fight, the hatred they held for one another.
     

  • The fact that my dad can’t help me with college loans because my mom fucked up his credit so badly.
     

  • I need two of everything.
     

  • When I graduated, they couldn’t stand each other long enough to have lunch together in celebration.
     

  • When they use the phrase “acting like your mother/father” in a negative manner.
     

  • My dad still thinks he can tell me and my siblings what to do; but he doesn’t live with us or have custody of us.  He doesn’t deserve to be obeyed because he cheated on my mom for 15 years.
     

  • Everyone else’s reaction to it.  The second I tell someone my parents are divorced, they get all sympathetic.  I don’t know why people think it’s such a big deal.  I’d rather my parents be apart and happy than together and miserable.
     

  • Knowing that you’re the only reason they still know each other … and knowing that you’re the reason that they mostly argue.
     

  • I grew up too fast.
     

  • Finding out all the horrible shit he did to my mom.
     

  • Watching other families having fun together.
     

  • I’ve learned things about both my parents that are both eye-opening and kind of frightening.
     

  • When you’re with one parent, it’s like the other doesn’t exist.
     

  • The stupid people they start to date afterwards.
     

  • When both are remarried and my stepmom changed my dad into a completely different person.  I haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving.
     

  • Having to communicate for them since they won’t communicate with each other.
     

  • Being the chew toy in a game of tug-of-war between two snarling, rabid dogs.
     

  • The way Dad seems to care for his new family more.
     

  • Having to deal with the guilt trip when you choose to spend a holiday with the other one.  Every damn year.
     

  • The lies.  Each one lies about the other to make themselves look and seem like the better parent.
     

As we said above, each child is an individual; and there's no formulaic approach to how best to help your children through this difficult and challenging time.  You may wish to speak with a child psychologist to understand better what your child is facing.

At Helman and Neustadt, while we know that this is likely new to you, we have considerable experience guiding our clients as they seek to support their children through this difficult period.  We can help you think about how best to support your children.  And, if appropriate, we can help you find a child psychologist who has the experience you need, and who will be right for you and your specific, unique situation.  If you have children and are contemplating or are already in the process of a divorce, talk to us.  Let us put our knowledge and years of experience to work for you.