[NOTE: the following is an excerpt from my newest marriage relationship book, Guiding Your Children through Divorce]
° Two thirds of children of divorce say they felt like they grew up in two families, not one, which creates “endless and often painful complications for a child.”
To a child, “family” means Me, Mom, and Dad. That’s the same for a child whose parents live together in one house or for a child whose parents are divorced and live across the state from each other.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine a little boy whose dad is stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, while Mom is raising that little boy in their home town….
Even though there may be five or six thousand miles between them, that little boy sees his family as him, his mama, and his daddy, all one clan. And his dad is most likely very actively involved in his son’s life. … if that little boy gets in trouble in school, his daddy will be talking to him by phone or web cam to help straighten him out, or if he gets straight As on his report card, Daddy will email him a card or call him to say “Good job, Son!”
And the same should be true for your children, even if you’re not 5,000 miles away, if you’re just across town you should still be very actively involved in their schooling, their discipline, the important details of their day-to-day lives.
° Fully 44 percent of children of divorce said “I was alone a lot as a child,” vs. Only 14 percent of those in intact families— a three-fold difference.
And these children aren’t happily reporting that they were able to sneak away from a loud, annoying sister to find some peace and quiet to read a book. Rather they’re saying that, when they needed Dad for some advice or some encouragement, he wasn’t around for them. And when they needed Mom to comfort them or needed her to just be Mom, she was too busy with something else.
Granted, this is one of the most hectic, frantic, upsetting times of your life. I recall my own divorce and all the chaos involved. I had to find a new place to live, pay deposits, get utilities started and pay deposits on them, open a new savings and a new checking account. Some people have even more to deal with following their divorce.
It’s a very busy time.
However, right in the middle of all this hectic running around, your children are desperately needing you. In fact, during the first two years of your divorce, your children are more dependent on you than they have since they were in diapers! They are facing feelings, issues, and crises they have no experience with and no frame of reference to know how to handle. They are looking directly to you— both their biological parents— for some idea how to act and react to the new situations they find themselves in.
Be careful not to let them down by showing them the wrong way!
Your children will be dealing with these and similar complications for the rest of their lives – but especially while they’re minors living with you. The divorce was not their idea. You owe it to them to make all the effort necessary to help them recover. It’s in your best interest, too, you know. When your children are more comfortable with your new family setup, including your divorce, they will make your whole life more manageable.
I’ll be talking more about how to make this work in upcoming blog posts. This new guidebook is taken directly from my award winning lessons for newly divorcing parents, which I’ve taught for nearly seven years to thousands of about-to-be single parents. You can get a copy for yourself at http://www.familymediator.org/childrendivorce.html