Being a child from divorced parents, divorce was something I wanted to avoid at all cost. Their divorce caused issues that followed me into adulthood. My parents’ had a horrible divorce that was divesting to us (my 2 siblings and I). I found myself reflecting on my own childhood experiences, in an attempt to save my children from some of those emotional struggles; now that I’m going through my own divorce. Here are some things I learned from being a child of divorce and then getting a divorce.
- My parents stayed married longer than they should have. As a result, they were very bitter and basically hated each other. When I started to consider the option of divorce… I had already begun to consider how staying in my marriage longer, would have an effect on my children. I did not want to grow to hate my ex-husband when resentment, hurt, and pain were already strongly present.
*Nobody tells you; it is okay to not wait to file for divorce. Our society tends to shame, lack empathy, and see divorce as a failure. People tend to make assumptions based on what they know from the outside looking in, without all of the details, and form their own decisions. Let people assume what they like; there is nothing wrong with starting new, having an opportunity for a happier life.
- My parents separated and then divorced. My siblings and I were taken away from our father’s family whom, we were the closest with. It was a major loss and grief for us. I did not want to take my children away from the family they had grown-up to know and love over my situation with their father.
*Nobody tells you; how hard it is to have to share your children on a schedule that doesn’t feel normal or right to you. Children need stability, family support, and encouragement. Extended family is a healthy way for children to acquire that throughout the divorce.
- My parents used us as messengers to communicate between each other. This caused a lot of anxiety and pain. I have kept this in mind and I have refuse to ask my children to give message to their father. I find it important that we discuss things privately and without our children being involved to shield them from unneeded information and pain on their behalf.
*Nobody tells you; that communication is still just as important being divorced as it was, when you were married. You still have to discuss a lot of daily things regarding children and other situations.
- Both of my parents were bad about discussing issues they had with one another with us. We were told about everything from child support issues to domestic issues. Often this bitterness would leave us feeling guilty for still loving, missing, and wanting the other parent. Just because something from my situation was not great did not mean my children don’t love their father or were in any harm. I do not want them to feel guilty for loving their father.
*Nobody tells you; that swallowing your own pride to put your children first is easier said than done. It is easy to get lost during divorce because; you are dealing with legal items, financial struggles, and custody agreements. It is critical that through everything you consider your children’s needs and feelings. Put their needs and best interest FIRST; over the pain, resentment, and hurt you feel in regards to your ex.
- My parents dealt with moving forward after divorce differently. One started addiction issues and the other moved to another county. Both of them living a very self-centered world, around their own needs and wants. For me moving forward and learning how to pick up the pieces after my divorce, began with forgiving and grieving a loss. I knew I needed to grieve the loss of my marriage and forgive my ex-husband. I also, had to accept some of the responsibility for why we drifted apart and things between us change. This was the only way for me to learn to let go and move forward.
*Nobody tells you; that moving forward is difficult, exciting, and an emotional rollercoaster ride. It is normal to feel pain, excitement, happiness, lonely, and cry in the same day, for weeks, for months or longer. Everyone moves forwards at their own leisure and that’s because it takes time to process all of the emotions. At some point, you do move forward, let down your guard, and can love again.
- This one is simply from my own direct experience. Being alone and lonely are not the same thing. I feel very vulnerable and for that, I’m guarded. I enjoy having my own space and feeling free from certain restraints and obligations. However, I still very much miss companionship, intimacy and emotional support.
*Nobody tells you that; being alone and lonely are not the same thing. That is difficult to wrap your brain around because, of the mixed emotions regarding the two. This takes time and processing of feelings to understand the differences and wants accordingly.
- My parents’ divorce removed both of our parents from our home, the stability of extended family members, and their support. As a result, it left us having issues with abandonment, trust, and commitment. Through my parents’ divorce and mine, I have learned a new level of appreciation for family, loyalty, real friends, and the act of compassion and empathy.
*Nobody tells you; that you will lose family and friends even if you don’t want to. It is only natural for people to take sides and be partial to one person or the other. You will learn a new appreciation and value for the words loyalty and friend.
- My parents didn’t manage to do holidays or birthdays any better than anything else. I remember, I spent the night with my father the night before my 16th birthday. The next day, my father didn’t remember it was my birthday. When I returned to my mother’s later that day, it didn’t appear that she had remembered either. Later, that night I was awakened by my mother throwing a jacket on my bed and telling me happy birthday. She showed no acknowledgement of the hurt, her and my father had caused me. Needless to say, that was one of the worst birthdays I had. Christmas and other holidays were not spent as a family or with family. This is something that followed me into my adulthood. Traditions have been a big deal for me with my children. I find it very important to make sure my children have great holidays and birthdays, where both their father and I can partake. Even as a broken family, I want to make sure my children feel supported and loved.
*Nobody tells you; that holidays and birthdays will never be the same. The weirdness or comfort that comes from your ex having another partner, that you may even like, and then that person becoming part of a family moment. Even after you have moved on, in the back of your mind you will always have some sort of sadness over a failed marriage.
- My parents did not remain friends, nor could they be in the same room with each other. This never changed. This made things extremely hard for us during important moments in our life-like graduations, marriage, and so on. It is important for me, for my children to not only have encouragement and support; but to feel free to love each of us. I never want my children to have to feel like they must choose a life moment to share with one parent over the other.
*Nobody tells you; that it is difficult to remain civilized, maybe even friends, and that co-parenting apart in healthy and collaborative way is possible. Our society tends to focus more on the negatives but, with hard work it is possible to put our children’s needs before our own. Amazingly my ex-husband and I have been doing this for sometime now. We put our children first, have little to no drama, and do the right thing based on their best interest. We have remained friends and co-parent divorced for the sake of our children.