For any woman contemplating divorce, one of the biggest questions is how will the children react? I believe the response is so individual that generalizations can’t or shouldn’t be made. Evvy, for example, was married for 42 years when she decided enough was enough. Even though her children were grown up and out of the house, she says telling them was the hardest part of the divorce.
It was just really hard to tell them and explain to them that the perfect family life we thought we had, wasn’t all there. It wasn’t that we never argued but we were a family and to realize that some of that was a facade is always hard.
I think it was a particular shock for my daughter who had worked with my husband on projects and knew him very well. She still takes his part and is much more sympathetic to him. She doesn’t want to hear anything detrimental. I think the divorce was a shock for her because she knew him so well.
My son wasn’t as surprised as he might have been. He’s married and he and his wife do go to a counselor whenever they feel they’re having a crisis. Their therapist uses the analogy of a marriage being like a garden – you tend to a garden, you look after a garden, you plant shrubs and you move things around. He used that analogy on our marriage. We had a nice garden but it needed to be redone. So my husband ordered a giant truckload of earth and the only place to put it was in the driveway. It was a little driveway and with the dirt there, we couldn’t park our cars. My husband said it was fine, it wouldn’t be for long, he’d put it on the garden and it would be great. Well, the dirt just sat there. Month after month after month. Every time my son drove past the house he saw the dirt and he said he thought, ‘oh dear.’ We never did move the dirt and then, of course, we lost interest.
My son had always found my husband to be a difficult person and in fact, three or four years before our divorce, he had gone and talked him about it. At the time, I thought why would he do that? Make waves? But he was absolutely right and because my son had already concluded that my husband wasn’t a perfect father, I think he has adjusted to the divorce better than my daughter.
The Divorce Coach Says
My children were 11- and 13-years old when we told them we were getting divorced. My daughter’s immediate reaction was that it was no big deal since three-quarters of the girls on her gymnastics team had divorced parents. In some ways I think it made her feel more ‘normal.’ Even now she doesn’t express any negativity about the divorce – she does express frustration with the same aspects of her Dad’s behavior that frustrated me. I try to listen and to coach her on how to respond. My son on the other hand, was very upset we were splitting up and didn’t want it to happen.
Recently when I took them both to Starbucks to talk about something, he thought I was going tell them we were getting back together. We weren’t and I was taking them so I could get them to talk through a disagreement they were having! He thinks the world of his Dad and I do my best to let it stay that way. He is their Dad and the only one they’ll ever have. I do believe in family and since I have no family in here in the U.S. I do want them to be connected to their Dad and his family, who are here. And, I do know that if their relationships with him deteriorates now, it’ll be harder to re-establish in the future.