I don’t remember the date but I do remember that it was a Saturday afternoon in November when my husband and I sat down in our kitchen and told our children we had decided to end our marriage. I can’t recall the specifics of the conversation but I can easily bring to mind an image of us all sitting there and how my son and daughter reacted. I imagine that it is a day and a conversation that they will also remember forever.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Ashley who is another child of divorce. Ashley is the youngest of four children and is forty-seven now. She and her sister were with her parents at DisneyWorld, Florida when their parents had the Divorce Conversation. Here’s what Ashely remembers:
My relationship with my mother was very, very strong and my relationship with my father was extremely weak back then. They told us and I started crying. They said something like, “Why are you crying?” I don’t know why they would have to ask that. And I said, “Well, who am I gonna live with… who are we gonna live with?” They said, “Your mother of course, was there any doubt?”
I’m not quite sure, and I’ve never really evaluated it before, what they expected from telling us that. But I also don’t know how my older two brothers found out, because they weren’t there. One of them was kind of on his own by then and the other one was in high school getting ready to graduate.
I think it must have been at spring break cause we went down to Florida. And I remember saying to them, “Is that why you took us to Florida?” I remember them saying to us at that time that it wasn’t intentional but I can’t imagine that they didn’t know that it was happening already. I never asked them
Then my parents separated but stayed living in the house together. I thought that what they chose to do was odd for me because, they gave my father my bedroom and my mother and I slept in her bed – their bed together. Obviously they were doing that for financial reasons but I thought it was odd that she put me in the bed with her, like that was her solution so that she wouldn’t be alone.
I don’t recall ever really having any conversations with friends about the divorce. I think I was in that generation where a lot of my friends’ parents were already divorced. I recall more after moving having conversations with new friends about my parents being divorced. I’m sure it’s selective memory. But I don’t actually recall that.
The Divorce Coach Says
I think it’s unfortunate that Ashley’s parents broke the news at Disney World – maybe they thought that it would be a good way to get the children to focus on something else afterwards but it’s definitely a poor choice to associate Disney World with the Divorce Conversation. Maybe too, it was a vacation that was planned and they thought they could get through it and never intended to tell the girls while they were there.
It just illustrates the importance of planning the conversation, every aspect of it–the where, the when, the what and even role-playing either with your STBX or with friends the different scenarios of how your child might react. Ashley clearly remembers the question about her crying being phrased as ‘why are you crying’ and thinking that it was odd. How it was actually phrased doesn’t matter. Thinking through how you might respond to different questions or reactions will help you avoid being caught off-guard and giving awkward answers.
The advice I was given at the time was to keep it short and to the point, no long-winded explanations and to have an activity planned – I think we went bowling. That was over five years ago and I am curious as to what my kids recall …
How did you tell your children? Were you at home? How did they react? Was the conversation planned or did happen unintentionally?
Photo Credit: Jessie Romaneix