I like to think that a big discussion in any divorce is how the children will react. What impact will divorce have on them? What can you do to insulate the children from the pain? It’s a question I always like to ask my interviewees. Kathleen Christensen’s daughter was seven when Kathleen and her husband decided to end their marriage. When I asked Kathleen about her daughter, what she said was a classic example of how children are able to see the silver lining in even the worst situations.
My daughter had known that we were separating. My ex was living in the basement for a number of months and things had been very tense. When my ex moved into his apartment, I went over there to see his place. We had just gotten a bed for his apartment for our daughter and she was jumping on the bed saying,
‘Thank you for getting divorced.’
I thought that was so funny but part of it was that she was seven and now she had two bedrooms. In fact two of her friends independently told their parents about her two rooms and their parents were like,
‘We’re not planning on getting divorced so you can have two bedrooms.’
At first she was in a little bit of denial –
‘Well, maybe Daddy won’t have enough money and he’ll have to stay.’
Things like that. The other thing she said was,
‘At least I won’t have to listen to boring grown-up talk at the dinner table anymore.’
When my ex and weren’t dealing with our issues directly we could be friendly and just yak. We would be yakking away and she would be going, ‘Blah, blah, blah.’ So, she was delighted.
She also said,
‘I won’t have to listen to you guys fighting anymore’
– we obviously hadn’t kept this hidden from her. In a way, I think it was good she did get to see and sense that happening because I think she knows it’s a lot better now. She seems more relaxed. Sometimes when we were having disagreements and were tense, it was about her. Sometimes that happened in front of her and that’s not healthy. We both knew that.
She’s getting to an age where more and more she’ll have input into things. She’ll be helping with the process of choosing middle school and we’ve been checking with her about how the schedule works with her. She’s back and forth a lot between households and I know some kids have problems with the transitions but she seems to like the way things are. I think she realizes it’s a lot better.
The Divorce Coach Says
When I moved from the marital home to my new home, I let my kids choose the furniture for their rooms and how they wanted the rooms decorated – paint colors, carpets, window treatments, new bed linen. And yes, who wouldn’t be excited about getting new things? My daughter didn’t jump up and down on her bed like Kathleen’s – she’s older – she just surrounded herself with her pillows on her new bed and sat feeling like a princess in a room that was much larger than her old room. My son got the smaller room but he had chosen his new bed and loved that too. I did wonder if I was spoiling them but I really wanted them to feel that these were their rooms. For my daughter, I gave her a budget that she had to stick within and she learned that to get the Pottery Barn look she wanted she could buy some items from Kohls and Bed Bath and Beyond and then just one or two signature pieces from Pottery Barn.
This is the last segment in the reposting of Kathleen’s story. I’d like to thank Kathleen again for sharing her journey. I am an optimist by nature and I love hearing stories that have a good ending but what I particularly appreciated about Kathleen’s story was that she and her ex came from such a hostile place. Her story shows that with commitment and hard work, the hostility can be resolved. If you’d like to know more about Kathleen, then head over to her blog, Head In the Clouds and follow her on Twitter, @kathwriter.
Photo Credit: thomas hull