Every child needs to have a sense of security in order to have a healthy concept of the world. But children of divorce need that security even more than kids whose world is still together. Children whose parents have broken their home have a special need to know their lives are safe and their future is at least somewhat secure.
Security does not come from four walls or from three meals or from trust funds or bank accounts. Security does not come from a particular number of toys or gadgets, or the type car they are taken to school in, or from their parents’ job titles. Security is not a function of money or things, of standing or dignity.
To a child whose parents have divorced, security is a safe family mold into which that child can settle. It is peace and quiet instead of fights and shouting. It is safe hugs instead of seclusion in their room, away from the chaos. Security comes from knowing their adults are sane, not obsessed or driven by hatred or revenge.
A child whose family has been torn apart needs to be able to see, hear, feel, and sense that order has been restored. Little nerves are easily shattered by loss, but not so easily repaired afterward. They need to see parents speaking to each other with calm demeanors. They need to hear their adults speaking to each other with some semblance of cooperation, if not respect. And they need to sense that the storms are finally breaking up; that there is a possibility for normalcy again.
Their hopes for the future depend on Mom and Dad demonstrating that they will make the effort to move past the past difficulties and disagreements. Maybe not to reconciliation (although every child with divorced parents prays and dreams they will reconcile someday), but at least past the anger to a willingness to work together for that child’s needs, daily, weekly, and lifelong.
The child whose world has been shattered by angry adults needs those same adults to teach the child that peace is the next step. The child is waiting, almost with held breath, for Mom and Dad to say something decent, or, maybe, something kind, about the other parent. When that happens, the child feels a huge fear relent. He can begin to hope for some sort of a real life again. She can finally stop fearing another devastating explosion that tears at her heart as the two people most important to her hurt each other, and her.
Yes, that first civil word releases irrational hope for rebuilding. Of course, the child immediately begins hoping the insanity has ended and he can wake up from it like a horrible nightmare. And she will be disappointed when she realizes that Mom and Dad actually are going to stay apart, despite her dearest wishes and needs. But the disappointment is measured against her just-passed torture of their open hostility toward each other, so it is a bit more bearable. Though it still makes him sick in the pit of his stomach to know his family will never be right again.
Children of divorce need security. Only their blood parents can give it. Their parents took away their security and hope and peace. So you owe it to your child or children to bury your selfish anger and give them the blessings of peace.
Love, Joy, & … Peace,
STEPcoach Bob Collins